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Federal program comes to AZ for first time, provides summer grocery money to low income families

Students who receive free and reduced lunches during the school year will now get grocery money over the summer. A new program will help more than 600,000 students access food while school is out.

The SUN Bucks Summer Grocery Benefits Program is offered by the federal government and it’s coming to Arizona for the first time. It will grant $120 per eligible child to buy food over the summer.

Rick Medina is a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Education. He said the funds will be added to families’ current EBT cards and the Arizona Department of Economic Security has already started distributing them.

“They have already distributed to nearly 288,000 children," Medina said. "They believe that by the end of the summer program here that about 605,000 children will be estimated to benefit.”

Families who do not already have an EBT card but are participating in the National School Lunch Program will receive a card in mid-July.

“When people are well fed and people are healthy, those are students that are ready to learn and ready to raise academic outcomes," Medina said. "So we feel that this is an important chance to assist students who might not otherwise have the meals that they need this summer.”

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.