SUN BUCKS PROGRAM BRIDGES SUMMER NUTRITION GAP FOR KEIKI – APPLICATION LAUNCHES JULY 5

Posted on Jul 4, 2024 in Featured, Main, NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
July 4, 2024

SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs – click here – application opens July 5, 2024.
Please check links at bottom of this page for translated versions of the FAQs

HONOLULU  ̶  The Department of Human Services (DHS) is announcing the launch of the SUN Bucks program application opening on July 5, 2024. DHS is disbursing this benefit and working with the Hawai‘i Department of Education (DOE) to implement the SUN Bucks program for school-aged children this summer.

Summer EBT, also called SUN Bucks, is a new and permanent program to provide benefits to households with school-aged children to purchase food during the summer. Households will receive $177 for each qualifying child, to be spent during the summer months. Eligibility must be established annually.

“Families who rely on healthy school breakfast and lunch for their children often have a difficult time accessing healthy food during the summer,” said First Lady Jaime Kanani Green. “The Sun Bucks program provides meaningful action to tackle childhood hunger and to help our keiki to play, learn, grow and be healthy during the summer months.”

DHS Director Ryan Yamane shared, “We thank the leadership of First Lady Green for her support of this vital program to feeding our keiki. This summer nutrition program in collaboration with the DOE will help feed more than 100,000 of our school-aged children across our state.”

Who automatically qualifies (no application is required) for SUN Bucks?

School-aged children are automatically eligible for SUN Bucks if:

  • The child was in a household that participated in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) in any month from July 1, 2023 through August 4, 2024; or
  • The child has been identified as a ward of the state (foster child), or identified by their school as homeless, migrant, or runaway; or
  • The child attended a school that offers the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and the household applied for and was approved for free or reduced-price school meals.
  • Exceptions to the school-aged requirement are Head Start and/or other pre-K students that attended a program that participated in the NSLP at their NSLP participating school.

Who needs to complete a SUN Bucks application?
The following households would need to complete a SUN Bucks application starting July 5, 2024through August 4, 2024:

Households with children attending a school operating the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) where all meals are free to all students, who did not apply for or was not approved for free or reduced-price school meals and who have household income that falls at or below the limits of the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.

Households with children attending a school operating NSLP who were not approved for free or reduced-price meals during the school year but may be eligible now because their household income falls at or below the limits of the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines click here for more information and the full FAQs.

How is SUN Bucks funded?
SUN Bucks is funded by the state of Hawaiʻi and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Is SUN Bucks the same thing as Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)? No. the P-EBT program was a program meant to help families during the COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT last issued benefits for Summer 2023 and has since ended.

SUN Bucks is a new program that helps families get nutritious foods by giving them benefits to buy groceries over the summer. Some students who were eligible for P-EBT will not be eligible for SUN Bucks. Unlike P-EBT, some families will need to apply for the SUN Bucks program. Many students will be automatically approved for it.

What is the definition of school-aged?
A child who will have arrived at the age of at least six years, and who will not have arrived at the age of 18 years on or before December 31 of any school year.

My child is homeschooled, can we receive SUN Bucks?
Homeschool families that receive or received SNAP or TANF in any month from July 1, 2023 through August 4, 2024, or have a foster child are eligible to receive this benefit. Interested families should complete this application and designate their foster status. The application will then be reviewed to determine eligibility. An application is not needed for SNAP and TANF households, please see item 3 above. Homeschool households cannot qualify for SUN Bucks using household income.

How much in SUN Bucks will I get?
SUN Bucks will be issued as a $177 lump sum per eligible child for the summer period. This amount is intended to assist with groceries for the entire summer.

When will I receive the SUN Bucks EBT card?
For children who automatically qualify, (see item 4 above) the SUN Bucks EBT card with the $177 benefit already loaded will be mailed out by our mainland vendor, FIS, starting July 16 via USPS. Households should anticipate that it may take 1-2 weeks for delivery. We are using the mailing address based on the child’s school records, or the household’s mailing address per their SNAP or TANF case if the school record information is not available.

If families believe we may have incorrect mailing information they should contact the SUN Bucks Customer Service toll-free at 1-888-975-SEBT(7328) to report their change of address.

For households that apply (see item 5 above) and are determined eligible, the SUN Bucks EBT card with the $177 benefit already loaded will be mailed out via USPS by our mainland vendor, FIS, starting July 17 and then thereafter the next business day after eligibility is determined for subsequent applications that are received and approved through August 4. Households should anticipate that it may take 1-2 weeks for delivery.

If your child is a foster child, cards will be mailed to a central Child Welfare office on Oʻahu first and will be routed to the appropriate Child Welfare office that services the foster child thereafter for distribution.

Where can I use SUN Bucks and what can be purchased with it?
Use SUN Bucks anywhere EBT benefits are accepted. Benefits may only be used to purchase food. Stores cannot give change or cash back from a food benefit transaction. Only the exact amount of food purchases may be deducted from the food benefit account. If returns are made from a SNAP account, the amount of the return will go onto the EBT card as a credit. Cash cannot be given for returns according to federal law.

There is no minimum dollar amount per transaction or a maximum limit on the number of transactions.

For a list of SNAP-eligible foods, see www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items. SUN Bucks can also be used with the Da Bux program.

What purchases are not allowed with SUN Bucks?
The following are products that cannot be paid for using SUN Bucks:
Hot food
Beer/wine/other alcoholic drinks
Cigarettes/cigars/other tobacco products
Gasoline
Dog food/cat food/other pet foods
Vitamins/medicine

Further, any unauthorized use, transfer, alteration, possession, or presentation of the SUN Bucks benefit or card may be subject to prosecution as a federal offense.

When will SUN Bucks expire?
Unused benefits expire 122 days after the date benefits are issued. Please use the benefit within that time frame. Once expired, the benefit cannot be reloaded.

How does my child receive the SUN Bucks card if custody is split between two households?
The SUN Bucks benefit is meant for the child; the SUN Bucks EBT card is issued in the child’s name and is meant to travel with the child between households. The child’s SUN Bucks card will be mailed via USPS to the mailing address of the parent or guardian listed in the child’s school record. This may be the adult who submitted a free and reduced-price meal application for the child, or the adult listed as the primary contact in the school’s system. Please work with any other parent/guardians and coordinate to support the child for whom the benefits are intended.

What should I do when I get my SUN Bucks card in the mail?
Follow the instructions that came with your SUN Bucks card and set up your PIN. Then your card can be used to buy food in most grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

How do I change my PIN?
To change your PIN or learn how to protect your benefits, download the free ebtEDGE mobile app or visit www.ebtEDGE.com.

If your SUN Bucks card is lost, stolen or damaged and you need a replacement card, call the FIS Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-888-328-4292.

Should I fill out an application if I received a notice saying that my child is approved SUN Bucks for Summer 2024? No, but please read the notice and the enclosed FAQs about SUN Bucks.

If any children in your household were missing from your eligibility notification, please contact the SUN Bucks Customer Service toll-free at 1-888-975-SEBT(7328).

If I don’t qualify now, may I apply later?
Yes, you may apply at any time during the SUN Bucks 2024 period that is open till August 4, 2024. For example, should you or someone in your household experience a loss of wages or become unemployed, you may choose to reapply and your child may be eligible for SUN Bucks if the household income drops below the income limit.

May I apply if someone in my household is not a U.S, citizen?
Yes. You, your children, or other household members do not have to be U.S. citizens to apply.

What if my income is not always the same?
List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1,000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you made $1,000 per month. If you normally get overtime, include it, but do not include it if you only work overtime sometimes. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.

What if some household members have no income to report?
Household members may not receive some types of income we ask you to report on the application, or may not receive income at all. Whenever this happens, please write a “0” in the field. However, if any income fields are left empty or blank, those will also be counted as zeroes. Please be careful when leaving income fields blank, as we will assume you meant to do so.

What if there isn’t enough space on the application for my family?
List any additional household members and required information on a separate piece of paper and attach it to your application.

Can I apply online?
Yes! We encourage you to complete an online application instead of a paper application if you are able. The online application has the same requirements and will ask you for the same information as the paper application.

Visit sunbucks.dhs.hawaii.gov to begin the online application process or need to download the paper application. Contact the SUN Bucks Customer Service toll-free at 1-888-975-SEBT(7328) if you have any questions about the online application process.

SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Simplified Chinese)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Chuukese)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Hawaiian)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Ilocano)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Korean)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Marshallese)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Samoan)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Spanish-Latin American)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Tagalog)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Tongan)
SUN Bucks Summer EBT FAQs (Vietnamese)

 

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Media Contact:
Amanda Stevens
Public Information Officer
Department of Human Services
[email protected]