SUN Bucks helps families buy food for children during the summer

May 1—Nearly 63% of Vigo County School Corp. students qualifying for free/reduced lunches will be automatically enrolled in a new summer benefit program that helps families feed school-age children.

The Indiana Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture are rolling out what's called the SUN Bucks program.

Families will receive $120 loaded onto an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card for each eligible child to buy groceries during the summer.

The Vigo County School Corp. wants to make all families aware of the program, particularly those who meet qualifications but may not be automatically enrolled.

That could include homeschooled children or those in virtual school.

"All VCSC children on the free-reduced program are already enrolled," and families have been notified, said Tom Lentes, VCSC director of food services. "They will see their Sun Bucks card come in early June."

The district also provided information on how to enroll in the program. They should go to:

In VCSC, about 63 percent, or 8,186 students, automatically qualify.

A family can use SUN Bucks benefits to buy food like fruits, vegetables, meat, whole grains, and dairy at grocery stores, farmers markets and other

"I think it's going to be very beneficial for our community to help kids over the summer," Lentes said.

School-age children are eligible for SUN Bucks if:

* The household already participates in SNAP, TANF, or income-based Medicaid, or

* The student has been identified as a ward of the state (foster child), homeless, or migrant, or

* The student attends a school that offers the National School Lunch Program, and the household income meets the requirements for free or reduced-price school meals.

The Vigo County School Corp. also will provide free breakfast and lunch at several sites this summer; the district will publicize those sites, including on the VCSC website, once they are approved by the state, Lentes said.

Any child 18 or under will be able to go to those sites for lunch and breakfast, he said. Some will be open all summer.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on X at @TribStarSue.