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Vermont secures waiver to participate in summer food assistance program

On a store front is a blue sticker that reads "EBT accepted here"
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public

The state has secured a waiver allowing Vermont to participate in a new federal program that provides low-income families with extra money to spend on food over the summer.

Vermont almost didn't participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Summer EBT” program. Gov. Phil Scott’s administration initially opted out, saying they couldn't afford the administrative upgrades needed to manage it. But officials later decided to try for a waiver, and this week received word that they had gotten it.

The Republican governor said during his weekly press conference Wednesday that he let out a sigh of relief when the state was notified yesterday that Vermont had been granted the flexibility it needed.

“I'm just thrilled that we were able to get through the bureaucratic nightmare that the feds had created and was going to prevent us from taking advantage of this program to help families and kids in Vermont,” he said.

Eligible families will receive $120 per child to use through an EBT card — a debit card that can be used at qualified retailers, including grocery stores and farmer’s markets. The state estimates that 45,000 children could participate.

That benefit is dwarfed by the kind of cash assistance that families received during the pandemic. But Anore Horton, the executive director of Hunger Free Vermont, said it will still make a difference.

“We have so many families in Vermont who are working hard to take care of their kids. And every dollar is actually a huge deal for a lot of families right now,” she said.

Some families will be enrolled based on existing benefits, and will see the extra cash automatically added to their EBT card. The state will open an application portal in August for families who qualify based on their income but aren't enrolled automatically. More information is available at

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Lola is Vermont Public's education and youth reporter, covering schools, child care, the child protection system and anything that matters to kids and families. She's previously reported in Vermont, New Hampshire, Florida (where she grew up) and Canada (where she went to college).
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