Colorado parents: You may qualify for extra grocery money with Summer EBT

An adult arm with a black leather jacket holds a red apple with another adult holding a red and yellow apple in the background with apples in a container.
The Summer EBT program will provide thousands of low-income Colorado families with grocery cards preloaded with $120 per school-age child. (Eyecrave Productions/Getty Images)

Leer en español.

Starting in June, hundreds of thousands of low-income Colorado families will get $120 per child to pay for groceries during summer break.

The program, called Summer EBT, aims to help parents of children who attend preschool through 12th grade in public schools pay for food when free school meals are unavailable or harder to access. State officials expect families of more than 300,000 children to benefit.

A Colorado law passed during a special legislative session in November enabled the state to join the new program, which is mostly funded by the federal government with a small contribution from the state. Nearly three dozen states are offering the program this year.

In recent years, Colorado has taken several steps to reduce the number of children who go hungry in the state. Starting this school year, the vast majority of Colorado students can get free school meals regardless of family income because of a universal meal program approved by voters in 2022. A program similar to Summer EBT was in place during the pandemic, but it expired last summer.

Colorado families are eligible for Summer EBT cards if they receive public benefits such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Colorado Works, or if their children qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

Most families will automatically receive a letter in May for each child eligible for Summer EBT, with preloaded cards arriving in the mail shortly after. To access the money on the card, families must set up a personal identification number. They can do this by calling 888-328-2656, entering the card number, and following the prompts.

Families who believe their child is eligible for Summer EBT, but who didn’t receive an eligibility letter can contact the Summer EBT Support Center at 800-536-5298 (text 720-741-0550) or email cdhs_sebt_supportcenter@state.co.us.

The Colorado Department of Human Services, which is administering the Summer EBT program jointly with the Colorado Department of Education, recommends that families ensure their child’s school has current address and parent/guardian information on file. For families receiving SNAP, Colorado Works, or Medicaid, their case should also have a current address on file.

Children in families that receive Summer EBT cards can still take advantage of free summer meals at local schools or other sites during the summer.

Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat, covering early childhood issues and early literacy. Contact Ann at aschimke@chalkbeat.org.

The Latest

Turnout was characteristically low — below 3%.

The CEO of The Learning Source, which provides adult education at locations across the state, said thousands of Colorado adults will lose out.

El índice de solicitudes completas de FAFSA ha disminuido y las ofertas de ayuda financiera están en un limbo. Los orientadores universitarios quieren que las familias sepan que no están solas.

Century-old Humes was operated as a charter under the state’s unraveling Achievement School District.

Schools are supposed to give parents of students in temporary housing free MetroCards each month. But problems with distributing them are leading to absences and fare evasion tickets.

The teachers union shared more details about demands it will make as it negotiates a new contract with Chicago Public Schools.