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Kids Eat for Free With SUN Bucks

SUN Bucks Ealert

Dear Friends,

As the school year comes to a close, California is working to ensure that the more than 3.2 million K-12 students receiving free and reduced-price school lunches maintain access to the quality nutrition they need to thrive. I am excited to announce the opening of the SUN Bucks program from the CA Department of Social Services this June – a summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Program that provides vital food security benefits to ensure no child goes hungry during the summer gap in school lunch programs. Families will receive $120 per eligible child to buy groceries at authorized retailers.

Children who already qualify for free or reduced lunches, as well as families enrolled in CalFresh, Medi-Cal, and other California benefits programs, will automatically receive their SUN Bucks card in the mail beginning in June. Some children will need to apply by submitting an “Alternative Income Form” or a “School Meal Application Form” to their school. Contact your school about the exact form you should use and how to submit it. You must apply by August 31, 2024, to be eligible for SUN Bucks.

Explore SUN Bucks

Quality nutrition is critical to ensuring our students and families thrive in Assembly District 18 and across California. I’m proud to support the SUN Bucks program, and I look forward to expanding access to healthy food for students and families in 2024 through the Food as Medicine Initiative and beyond.

Yours in Service,

Assemblymember Bonta signature

Mia Bonta
Assemblymember, 18th District

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Section 1: Find Out Where the Money and Meals are This Summer for Kids
Section 1A: Find Out if Your Family is Eligible for the Sun Bucks Program This SummerSUN Bucks Logo Graphic

What is SUN Bucks?

SUN Bucks is a new permanent program that helps families with school-age children buy groceries during the summer when kids might not have access to school meals.

A federal law called the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed in December 2022 to create SUN Bucks across the country, with a California law passing in July 2023 to cement the state’s enrollment in the program. The California Department of Social Services is the lead agency implementing the program, in partnership with the California Department of Education.

For summer 2024, the state will automatically enroll about 5 million eligible children based on existing school and social services data.

Using SUN Bucks:

SUN Bucks are put on an EBT card. Each eligible child in your family will get one card with $120 to buy groceries – that’s $40 per month for June, July, and August. You can use your card to buy food at most grocery stores, farmer's markets, and other authorized retailers.

It is important to protect your SUN Bucks because if they are stolen, they will not be replaced. View more information on how to safeguard your SUN Bucks in our frequently asked questions or download the EBT Cardholder Application to change your EBT Personal Identification Number.

SUN Bucks must be used within 122 days of funds being loaded to your card. Any unused money on your card after 122 days will expire. Expired benefits cannot be replaced or put back on your card.

When Will Families Receive SUN Bucks?

Most families will begin receiving their 2024 SUN Bucks cards in mid-June through August. Due to the large volume of automatically eligible children, issuances will occur in two stages:

Stage 1:

  • Automatically enrolled kids will begin receiving their cards mid-June and continuing through August. Cards will be mailed in alphabetical order by the child’s last name (A-Z).

Stage 2:

  • Kids will get their cards in Stage 2 if they were: (1) not automatically enrolled in Stage 1, or (2) determined eligible after the start of Stage 1. These kids will receive their cards beginning in August and continuing through November. This includes kids who were determined eligible based on:
    • Alternative Income Forms,
    • School meal applications, or
    • Enrolled in CalWORKs, CalFresh, or Medi-Cal between April and August

Regardless of when the card is received, every SUN Bucks card will be loaded with the full $120 per child.

Learn more about the SUN Bucks program online or call the SUN Bucks Helpline at (877) 328-9677.

Section 1B: Find Out Where to Get Free School Meals

Summer is a wonderful time, and it’s important to remember to support families and kids and help them achieve good nutrition. That’s why many schools in Alameda County and beyond offer free school meals, most commonly breakfast and lunch. Find a school near you and drop by for some ready-made meals.

2024 Summer Meal Schools

Section 2: Get Active This Summer in Assembly District 18
Section 2A: Stay Active With City of Oakland Parks, Recreation and Youth DevelopmentAD18 Spring Summer Oakland Active Guide

Get involved this summer in one of Oakland’s many summer camps, adult and youth sports, teen events and more with the City of Oakland Parks, Recreation and Youth Development 2024 Activity Guide.

Section 2B: City of Emeryville Summer 2024 Guide for YouthAD18 City of Emeryville 2024 Summer Activity Guide

The City of Emeryville has published its Summer 2024 City News and Activity Guide! Find opportunities in aquatics, volunteering, youth sports, enrich your learning/skills, and find employment in the Emeryville area.

Section 2C: City of Alameda Summer 2024 Activity GuideAD18 City of Alameda Summer 2024 Activity Guide

Created by the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department, the 2024 Summer Activity Guide is the perfect way to plan activities inclusive of all ages, from the Underground Teen Center, family-friendly picnics to the city’s newest playgrounds, outdoor fitness classes, and partnerships with local groups to provide live entertainment

Section 3: Teen and Young Adults Employment Programs
Section 3A: City of Oakland Youth Employment Opportunities!

The City of Oakland’s Parks, Recreation, and Youth Development has various activities and opportunities for Oakland youth to enjoy and engage with this summer. Through a robust activity guide for spring and summer 2024, there are open part-time employment positions available for the summer.

Search Jobs

Section 3B: City of Alameda Teen Summer Volunteer Program

The City of Alameda offers a wide variety of volunteer and community service opportunities for those in Middle and High Schools, which count towards school community service requirements.

The Summer Teen Volunteer Program provides a learning opportunity for teens and tweens to work with Kindergarten to 4th Grade youth in ARPD's WOW Programs

Section 3C: Youth Employment PartnershipYouth Employment Partnership Logo

Youth Employment Partnership (“YEP”) operates one of the highest-performing youth workforce development programs. YEP offers job readiness training and summer-long employment to low-income youth in Oakland. Their pre-employment training includes financial literacy, communication, and conflict management skills, as well as comprehensive support services to address additional needs.

If you are between 15-18 years old, or a young adult 18-24, and interested in applying for a 2024 summer job please fill out the application below.

15 - 18 years old

18 - 24 years old

Section 3D: Lao Family Youth Employment Program for 16 - 24 year olds!Lao Family Youth Employment Program

The Lao Family Community Development Youth Employment Program is designed to help youth prepare for the world of work by gaining valuable skills, experiences, and confidence to become empowered in their pursuit of their goals. The program is open to Oakland Youth (ages 16-24). Youth enrolled in the program will receive job-readiness training, ongoing support, and meaningful paid work experience.