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Evaluating Summer Nutrition Assistance for Children


Highlights

  • Summer EBT reduces severe food insecurity in children by a third.
  • Abt is documenting Summer EBT successes and challenges and analyzing benefit usage from 2019-2022.
  • The evaluation will inform and improve future program implementation.
The Challenge

The Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) pilots have operated since 2011 to provide grocery assistance to households with eligible children during summer months when millions of U.S. children lose access to free or reduced-price school lunches. Abt is expanding on earlier work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and evaluating the 2019 through 2022 program years to document program challenges and successes. The evaluation will also improve understanding of differences in benefit use by participants to inform how Summer EBT can better meet families’ needs.

The Approach

The evaluation will include a Process Study and a Benefits Use Study. For the Process Study, Abt is conducting focus groups and interviews with grantees, schools, grocery retailers, and the caregivers of children enrolled. As part of the Benefits Use Study, Abt is analyzing the grocery transactions made by Summer EBT participants to learn what foods they purchase, how much, and who makes the purchases. As a result of the pandemic, the grantees were reduced from five states and three Independent Tribal Organizations (ITOs) to three ITOs.

The Results

The interviews and data provide information on family choices and how Summer EBT’s nutrition assistance meets the needs of families. Abt will present annual findings in interim reports to the USDA and a final report with combined data from 2019-2022. This will help inform the USDA on how nutrition assistance can reach more children and better meet the needs of families across the country.