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

By Ann Schimke, Chalkbeat Colorado

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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

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

Chalkbeat ( is a nonprofit news organization covering public education.

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