Department of Human Services

SUN Bucks: Pennsylvania’s Summer EBT program

Got questions? Call the SUN Bucks pre-recorded FAQ line at:
1-877-762-1575

Summer is a time when many children may not have access to the free and reduced-price meals they get during the school year, and households might need a little extra help putting meals on the table.

This year Pennsylvania will launch SUN Bucks, Pennsylvania’s Summer EBT program, a new grocery benefits program that provides households with a one-time payment of $120 for each eligible child to buy food while school is out. Benefits can be used at local participating retailers to purchase groceries.

Many children will get these benefits automatically, but some households will need to apply. The benefits will be added to an existing SNAP/TANF EBT card or a newly issued Summer EBT card.  

Note: For the first year of this program, paper applications for children that are not automatically eligible will become available in July 2024. Benefits will be issued to all eligible children by October 2024.  

Eligibility

Children who applied and were approved for free/reduced-price school meals or who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits are automatically eligible for SUN Bucks. 

Most children who get Medicaid are also automatically eligible for SUN Bucks because their income level is under the income level for the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program. Children who get Medicaid through the Children with Special Needs category (PH 95) and children who are in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will have to apply for SUN Bucks. 

Children are automatically eligible for the SUN Bucks Summer EBT program and do not need to apply to receive a benefit if:

  • The household received SNAP or TANF between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024 and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program; OR
  • The household received SNAP or TANF between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024  and the child is not enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program but was between ages 6-18 between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024; OR
  • The child received Medicaid with qualifying income for the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024 and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program; OR
  • The child received Medicaid with qualifying income for the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024 and the child is not enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program but is between ages 6-18 between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024; OR
  • The child is in Head Start, is homeless, in foster care, or is a runaway and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program; OR
  • The child applied for and was determined eligible for free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch or Breakfast Program.

How to Apply

Most eligible households will get SUN Bucks automatically if they are getting other benefits, but some households may need to apply for the program. Use the Eligibility Navigator to determine if your child is eligible for SUN Bucks and whether you need to apply.

If you are not automatically enrolled and believe your children are eligible, you can get SUN Bucks by filling out a simple application:

Applications received on or before August 31, 2024 will be considered for a SUN Bucks benefit this year.
Applications received after August 31, 2024 will be considered for a SUN Bucks benefits during the 2025 application period next summer.

Apply for SUN Bucks

Most eligible households will get SUN Bucks automatically if they are getting other benefits, but some households may need to apply for the program.

If you are not automatically enrolled and believe your children are eligible, you can get SUN Bucks by filling out a simple application.

Let others know about SUN Bucks

Help spread the word about SUN Bucks so all eligible families can benefit. 

Visit the USDA’s SUN Bucks outreach toolkit page for:

  • Fact sheets
  • Social media graphics & posts
  • Sample newsletter content
  • Videos, and more…

Or, use some of our social media graphics:

Sample square SUN Bucks social graphic with an illustration of a tanned skinned woman and text reading: "Wondering if your family needs to apply for SUN bucks? User our Eligibility Navigator to easily find out! dhs.pa.gov/sunbucks"
Sample Square graphic announcing SUN Bucks with text reading: New summer grocery benefit for kids. Supports well-rounded meals at home. Can be used with other benefits like SNAP. dhs.pa.gov/sunbucks Apply by August 31 for Summer 2024 benefits."
Sample square SUN Bucks social graphic with an illustration of a Caucasian woman and text reading: "Wondering if your family needs to apply for SUN bucks? User our Eligibility Navigator to easily find out! dhs.pa.gov/sunbucks"
Sample square SUN Bucks social graphic with an illustration of a Caucasian man and text reading: "Wondering if your family needs to apply for SUN bucks? User our Eligibility Navigator to easily find out! dhs.pa.gov/sunbucks"
Sample square SUN Bucks social graphic with an illustration of a tanned man and text reading: "Wondering if your family needs to apply for SUN bucks? User our Eligibility Navigator to easily find out! dhs.pa.gov/sunbucks"

SUN Bucks FAQ

Starting in the summer of 2024, states, territories, and certain tribal nations can provide households $40 per summer month ($120 maximum) per eligible child. This Summer EBT benefit will allow households to buy groceries in similar fashion to using SNAP benefits. SUN Bucks will work with other USDA nutrition programs to connect every eligible child with the food they need in the summer.

There are several ways for a child to be eligible for SUN Bucks. Most children who will receive SUN Bucks are automatically eligible and do not need to apply. To determine if your child is eligible and whether you need to apply, use the Eligibility Navigator.

A child will automatically be eligible to receive the $120 SUN Bucks benefit for the summer of 2024 if:  

  • The household received SNAP or TANF between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024 and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program; OR 
  • The household received SNAP or TANF between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024  and the child is not enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program but is between ages 6-18 between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024; OR 
  • The child received Medicaid with qualifying income for the National School Lunch Program between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024 and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program; OR 
  • The child received Medicaid with qualifying income for the National School Lunch Program between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024 and the child is not enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program but is between ages 6-18 between July 1, 2023 and August 31, 2024; OR
  • The child is in Head Start, is homeless, in foster care, or is a runaway and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Program; OR
  • The child applied for and was determined eligible for free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch. 

You may need to apply for SUN Bucks if:

  • Your child attends an NSLP school and does not qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on direct certification (SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid with qualifying income for NSLP), categorical eligibility (homeless, foster child, migrant, runaway, or Head Start), or a household application for free/reduced school meals during the 2023-2024 School Year.

Use the Eligibility Navigator to determine if your child is eligible for SUN Bucks and whether you need to apply.

Yes. SUN Bucks is a permanent program. 

Most children who are eligible for SUN Bucks do not need to apply. Children who are not directly certified, categorically eligible, or approved for free or reduced-price meals via a household application for free/reduced school meals must apply for SUN Bucks through DHS. Children attending Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools where all students receive meals at no cost may also need to apply for SUN Bucks if they cannot be directly certified and are not categorically eligible.

Use the Eligibility Navigator to determine if your child is eligible for SUN Bucks and whether you need to apply.

No. Most eligible children do not need to apply for SUN Bucks. Children in the following categories will automatically receive SUN Bucks:

  • The child receives SNAP and/or TANF and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program.
  • The child receives SNAP and/or TANF and the child is not enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program but is between 6-18.
  • The child receives Medicaid with qualifying income for the National School Lunch Program and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program.
  • The child receives Medicaid with qualifying income for the National School Lunch Program and the child is not enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program but is between 6-18.
  • The child is in Head Start, is homeless, in foster care, is a migrant, or is a runaway and the child is enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program.
  • The child applied for and was determined eligible for free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program. 

Children who are not in the categories above will have to apply for SUN Bucks with a paper application to be determined eligible.

Use the Eligibility Navigator to determine if your child is eligible for SUN Bucks and whether you need to apply.

The following are some examples of children who would not need to apply for SUN Bucks because they are automatically eligible. Most eligible children do not need to apply for SUN Bucks. Use the Eligibility Navigator to determine if you need to apply.

  • Olivia is 7 years old and enrolled in her local elementary school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Olivia is also part of a household that receives SNAP benefits. Olivia is automatically eligible for SUN Bucks.
    • Note that if Olivia’s household received TANF or Medicaid with qualifying income for the NSLP, she would also be automatically eligible for SUN Bucks and would not need to apply.
  •  Liam is 15 years old and enrolled in a charter school that participates in the NSLP. Liam lives with his foster parents. Liam is automatically eligible for SUN Bucks and does not need to apply.
  • Mia is 10 years old and enrolled in a private school that does not participate in the NSLP. Mia has Medicaid and qualifies due to income eligibility. Mia is automatically eligible for SUN Bucks and does not need to apply. 

Most children will be automatically eligible for SUN Bucks and will not need to apply. Only households who are not automatically eligible should apply. To apply for SUN Bucks for summer of 2024, households will need to complete a SUN Bucks application through DHS. In July, the application will be available as a fillable PDF in both English and Spanish on the DHS SUN Bucks webpage and paper copies will also be available upon request at the County Assistance Office (CAO). 

The application is expected to be available July 1, 2024. Applications must be submitted by August 31, 2024 in order to receive SUN Bucks in 2024. 

Most children who are eligible for SUN Bucks will not need to apply. If you use the Eligibility Navigator and determine that your child will not be automatically eligible for SUN Bucks, you can apply beginning July 1, 2024. All applications for the summer of 2024 must be submitted by August 31, 2024.

Most children will be automatically eligible for SUN Bucks and will not need to apply. Before applying for SUN Bucks, please use the Eligibility Navigator to determine if you need to apply to receive the benefits.

If you apply for SUN Bucks, you will need to provide information about your child/children including their age(s), birth date(s), school(s), mailing address(es), and your household income. You do not need to provide a Social Security Number (SSN), proof of citizenship, or proof of income such as paystubs. Providing an SSN and case number, if you have one, may assist with processing your application. 

The Eligibility Navigator can help you determine if a school participates in the National School Lunch Program. The PA Department of Education also makes a list of schools available.

Yes. Head Start and/or other pre-K students will receive SUN Bucks if the student attends a program that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and is eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Head Start students are categorically eligible for free meals, meaning that they will not need to apply for SUN Bucks if they attend a school that participates in the NLSP.

If a child receives Medicaid with qualifying income, they will be automatically eligible for SUN Bucks if enrolled in a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program or if they are between the ages of 6 and 18.

Medicaid with qualifying income means that the child receives a category of Medicaid based on the entire household’s income. Children in the Special Needs (PH 95) category of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will not automatically qualify for SUN Bucks but may be eligible through other means.  

Use the Eligibility Navigator to determine if your child is eligible for SUN Bucks and whether you need to apply.

Yes. If your household received SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid with qualifying income between July 2023 and August 2024, your child will be automatically eligible for SUN Bucks if they attend a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or were aged 6 to 18 between July 2023 and August 2024 but did not attend an NSLP school.  

Not necessarily. To determine if your child is eligible for SUN Bucks and whether you need to apply, use the Eligibility Navigator. If you are at a school where everyone receives free breakfast and/or lunch without having to fill out an application, and no one in your household receives SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid with qualifying income, and your child is not considered homeless, migrant, runaway, or in foster care, then you will likely need to apply to receive SUN Bucks. 

No. Even though CEP students receive free meals during the regular school year, they must receive SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid with qualifying income or they must be considered homeless, migrant, runaway, or in foster care to automatically receive SUN Bucks benefit. Otherwise, the household must apply for SUN Bucks through DHS.

Most eligible children will automatically receive SUN Bucks and will not need to apply. For households that do not receive SNAP, TANF, Medicaid with qualifying income or are not automatically eligible for SUN Bucks through their receipt of free or reduced-price school meals, the child’s household must meet these SUN Bucks income guidelines.

 

Household Size

Monthly Income Limit

1

$2,322

2

$3,152

3

$3,981

4

$4,810

5

$5,640

6

$6,469

7

$7,299

8

$8,128

9

$8,958

10

$9,787

11

$10,616

12

$11,446

13

$12,275

14

$13,105

15

$13,934

16

$14,763

Each Additional Member

$830

It depends. Students who attend charter schools, private schools, Residential Childcare Institutions (RCCIs), or other schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program are automatically eligible if they were either approved for free or reduced-price meals by application at any point since July 2023; approved for free meals because they are considered by their school to be experiencing homelessness, a runaway, a migrant student, or in foster care; OR in a household that participates in SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid with qualifying income, they are eligible and should receive SUN Bucks automatically. If the child is not automatically eligible but is in a household which meets the income guidelines, they are eligible and must apply for SUN Bucks. 

If your child is homeschooled, attends a cyber charter school, or participates in a school district’s virtual program or school, they are generally not considered to be enrolled in a NSLP participating school and can only qualify if they are between the ages of 6 and 18 and eligible for direct certification because they receive SNAP or TANF or they receive a category of Medicaid based on the entire household’s income.

Each household will receive maximum $120 per eligible child (the equivalent of $40 per summer month). DHS will begin issuing the benefits around mid-August through September 2024. Benefits are expunged four (4) months after the date of issuance, meaning that households have four months to spend the benefit after issuance.

No. $120 is the maximum benefit each eligible child can receive. If there is more than one child in a household, each eligible child will receive $120.

Children whose families already receive SNAP or TANF will receive SUN Bucks on the household’s regular EBT card, if possible.

If the benefit cannot be loaded onto a household’s existing SNAP or TANF EBT card, the benefit will be loaded on a SUN Bucks card, labeled Summer EBT, and sent to the household address from child’s Medicaid benefits if they were automatically eligible due to receiving Medicaid, or to the address listed in the school’s SUN Bucks file or the address on the SUN Bucks application the household submitted to DHS.

DHS will be issuing the benefit at the household level, so if a household has three eligible children, all three children’s benefits will be loaded onto a single SUN Bucks card if possible

Households receiving SNAP, TANF or Medicaid through DHS should make sure the county assistance office has their most up to date contact information for their case record.  Otherwise, households should make sure that the school has the most up-to-date contact information for the household.

Households already receiving SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid can update their address through COMPASS or the myCOMPASS PA Mobile App. Households can also update their contact information by calling the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930 or 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia

The SUN Bucks benefit can be used just like traditional SNAP benefits. The card can be used at approved food retailers, such as grocery stores and convenience stores. SNAP and SUN Bucks benefits cannot be used to purchase hot, prepared foods, even at grocery stores and convenience stores. Both SNAP benefits and SUN Bucks can be used to purchase seeds.

No. SUN Bucks can only be used for the same purchases as SNAP. 

After the SUN Bucks benefit is issued, you have four (4) months to spend the benefit. After four months, you will no longer be able to use the benefit. 

It depends. If possible, only one SUN Bucks account will be created and all benefits for the children will be loaded into this account.

However, if your children qualify for the SUN Bucks benefit in different ways, you may receive the benefit for one child and another person may receive the benefits for another child. 

You will receive the benefit in one issuance of $120 this year for each eligible child. DHS will begin issuing the benefits beginning around mid-August through September 2024.

In most cases, these students will be on the file provided by schools to DHS, so the benefit will be added to the SNAP or TANF EBT card of the household/entity which claims the student for these benefits. If the student is receiving Medicaid with qualifying income, the benefit will be loaded on a SUN Bucks card and issued to the address on file with DHS.

If the student is not on the state’s direct certification file, but the school reported the student as “Free” (since they are categorically eligible for free school meals), DHS will load the benefits on a SUN Bucks card and issue it to the address the school reported for the student.

Since SUN Bucks is a permanent program, DHS will be attempting to reuse cards in future years whenever possible. Households who receive a SUN Bucks card for their children should keep those cards in case they are reloaded for future summers.

You may have received a benefit even though you didn’t apply because your child is automatically eligible for SUN Bucks.

If you would like to decline SUN Bucks benefits and received the benefits on a newly issued Summer EBT card, you can simply destroy the card.

If you would like to decline SUN Bucks benefits and received the benefits on your SNAP or TANF EBT card, please contact the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930 or 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia to opt out of the program. 

SUN Bucks benefits will be distributed beginning around mid-August and all issuances will be complete by October 2024. If you have not received a notification about your eligibility for SUN Bucks by the end of August and believe that your child(ren) are automatically eligible, contact the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930 or 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia.

Distribution dates for Summer EBT will vary, so siblings might receive benefits at different times.

In addition, children who are not attending a school that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), such as a child who is homeschooled or a child who attends a private school that doesn’t participate in the NSLP, must be between 6 and 18 at any point since July 2023 and in a household receiving SNAP, TANF or Medicaid with qualifying income for NSLP, in order to be eligible. This means that some children younger than 6 or older than 18 may not be eligible, even if a child in the same household is eligible.

SUN Bucks benefits issuances for paper applications will be complete by October 2024. If you have not received an eligibility determination after applying, by the end of October 2024, please contact the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930 or 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia.

The written notice you receive with your eligibility determination includes information on how to appeal. 

To request a replacement SNAP, TANF, or Summer EBT card, please contact your local CAO or the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930 or 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia.

To receive help activating your SUN Bucks Summer EBT card, please contact the EBT Recipient Hotline at 1-888-EBT-PENN (1-888-328-7366), your local CAO, or the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-395-8930 or 215-560-7226 in Philadelphia.

 If you are automatically eligible for SUN Bucks, income eligibility is not a concern. If you were determined eligible for SUN Bucks, free or reduced-price school meals, or SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid with qualifying income at any point between July 2023 and the end of summer 2024, you remain eligible for benefits even if your income later increases. However, if you apply via paper application you must be eligible per the income guidelines at the time of application for SUN Bucks. 

No. You can apply for SUN Bucks anytime until August 31, 2024. The total benefit amount ($120 per eligible child) will be the same even if you qualify at the end of the summer.

If your income or other circumstances have changed, you can always reapply for SUN Bucks through August 31, 2024.

If you have additional questions that are not answered through these frequently asked questions, you can call the SUN Bucks pre-recorded FAQ line at: 1.877.762.1575.

If you have an account with Pennsylvania’s online benefits portal, COMPASS, you can also submit questions directly through COMPASS.