The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Coalition Meeting on 11/29 and Washington Update on Proposed SNAP Cuts

This is a reminder that the November Food SNAP Coalition meeting is Tuesday, November 29th from 10 to Noon at St Francis House. We have an exciting agenda planned and hope you can make it. This will be the LAST Coalition meeting for 2011 as we traditionally avoid meetings during the Christmas/New Year holidays and school vacations. The Coalition will continue its monthly meetings in 2012 on the 4th Tuesday of each month.
 
AGENDA:
 
1.  DTA Commissioner Julia Kehoe:  Former DTA Commissioner Kehoe (as of 11/18) will be attending the Coalition in her new capacity as Senior Policy Advisor to EOHHS Secretary Bigby. This is an opportunity for Coalition members to thank Julia for all her work at DTA where she presided over the largest increase in the caseload and benefits in the past 10 years! Since she took over the DTA helm, Massachusetts SNAP benefits have risen by $70M a month to over $108M/month. That's $1.2 BILLION a year - with an economic stimulus to the MA economy of over $2.1 BILLION to the state from the use of SNAP EBT benefits at local grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers markets!! Please join us in thanking Julia Kehoe and learning about her new position at EOHHS, which oversees DTA and other human services agencies.
 
2.  Washington Update on Super Committee and Farm Bill 2012:  Ellen Vollinger, Legal Director of the Food Research Action Center (FRAC) will be attending the Coalition on the 29th to share with us what's happening in DC on federal cuts, proposals that may surface on the horizon and action steps we need to take here in MA and with family and friends in other states to protect anti-hunger programs. Below is an email from FRAC with a mini update and links to further information. Please note that one of the proposed SNAP cuts put on the table during recent Super Committee deliberations involved would have a significant and harmful impact on elder and disabled SNAP households in MA. One proposal floated to the Super Committee involved restricting states like MA from implementing our SNAP policy of providing fuel assistance (H-EAT). The H-EAT policy simplifies the verification of utility costs, provides critical outreach on other fuel assistance (LIHEAA) benefits and puts more food on the table of low income elder and disabled households. See FRAC link to Fact Sheet below.
 
3.  State FY2012 Budget: Brief report from Coalition members who met with EOHHS Secretary Dr JudyAnn Bigby and Commissioner Kehoe, and SEIU Union, on 11/8 to discuss the state budget and administrative funding for front line SNAP staff.  Remember, the Governor issues the House 2 Budget recommendations in January.  NOW is a great time to raise DTA capacity and staffing issues with EOHHS and the Governor's office.
 
4.  SNAP Policy Updates: Discussion of DTA Operations Memo 2011-55 re upcoming recertifications/renewal of cash assistance cases (TAFDC and EAEDC recipients) and how these cases will be handled by local DTA offices (a copy of this DTA Operations Memo will get posted to MassLegalServices.org prior to the meeting). Time permitting, we will also have a  report from folks now using the "secure email delivery" system (SFED) to ship client documents to the Web Units and other DTA offices; review of recent changes to the Virtual Gateway web application (minimal information) and My Account Pages; update on the Western Mass Healthy Initiative Pilot and MORE. 
 
** Apologies to those of you trying to reach us.  MLRI's network server has an internal combustion and was out of service Monday and most of today. Sorry if you if you tried to reach any of us by email and we did not respond. And apologies for getting this meeting reminder out later than planned.
 
 
May you have a wonderful and rejuvenating Thanksgiving. Please rest up in anticipation of some of the hardest advocacy work you may ever be called upon to do to protect anti-hunger and all safety net programs! 
 
 
 

>>> "Ellen Teller, Director of Government Affairs, Food Research and Action Center"

Washington Update on Super Committee and Farm Bill Negotiations

Amid the swirl of stories coming out of Washington, DC, we wanted to give you an update of what we know regarding deficit reduction efforts and the Farm Bill.

What we know:

  • Super Committee:  As you have heard, a deal on achieving $1.2 trillion/10 years in deficit reductions through the Super Committee process has failed.  According to the terms of the Deficit Control Act, upon failure to put forth an agreement by Nov. 23 and to vote on a bill by Dec. 23, automatic sequestration kicks in by cutting $1.2 trillion over 10 years, beginning in January 2013.  These automatic cuts would be shared equally between defense and non-defense programs.  Programs like SNAP, child nutrition, TEFAP commodities, Commodity Supplemental Food Program would be protected from these cuts.  Click here for a full list of protected programs.
  • House & Senate Agriculture Committees (Farm Bill proposal):  While the Super Committee was deliberating, the principals of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees were meeting to develop recommendations for a Farm Bill which reportedly would secure $23 billion/10 years in program cuts, using the Super Committee bill as the vehicle for this Farm Bill.  Reports indicated that $4 billion/10 years in SNAP cuts were under serious consideration, with those cuts coming from limitations on SNAP “Heat and Eat.”  Click here for more information on SNAP “Heat and Eat” (pdf).  It was anticipated that the Agriculture Committee’s recommendations would be released publicly late last week (or over the weekend). While earlier drafts have surfaced, as of today, the Committees have not publicly issued their “official” recommendations.  It is also unclear whether the Farm Bill the Committee was preparing for the Super Committee will be carried over into a free-standing Farm Bill reauthorization.

What We Don’t Know:

  • What is next.  It is unclear what is next for the Super Committee process or other actions by Congress that may be planned for the remainder of this session.  We will keep you updated as events happen.

What You Can Do:

  • Keep up the drumbeat in your conversations with elected officials and the media.  Especially with the Thanksgiving holiday focus, there are many opportunities to get our message across -- “No cuts to SNAP, nutrition programs and safety net programs for the poor and vulnerable.”

About Us: The Food Research and Action Center (www.frac.org) is the leading national organization working for more effective public and private policies to eradicate domestic hunger and undernutrition. Visit our Web site (www.frac.org) to learn more. Click here to unsubscribe from this e-mail.

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