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August supplemental SNAP, recerts by phone, MA unemployment rate news & call to action

We hope that you have been able to take some time off to rejuvenate with family and friends this August or in the weeks to come. As always, we greatly appreciate ALL the work you are doing in Massachusetts and your local communities to make sure families can put food on the table and to push Congress to #BoostSNAPnow. There is a lot going on, so we are planning to have a Coalition Zoom meeting next Tuesday, 9/1 at 10 AM - please keep the date and time on your calendars, and stay tuned. In the meantime, a few updates below. 
 
DTA issuing supplemental SNAP for August in early September
 
DTA has confirmed they will be issuing supplemental SNAP for August for households who are not receiving the maximum grant in early September (around the 2nd/3rd - date not confirmed yet). Note that the supplement is paid out later in the month for applications filed in August but where the approval decision is not made by the end of August. So, we encourage all households with income below 200% FPL to apply before 9/1 in order to be eligible for the August supplement! The best way to apply right now is on DTAConnect.com from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you work with any households that you think are eligible for but did not receive the supplement, please let us know. 
 
NEW: Option to do SNAP Recertification form by phone!
 
SNAP households who need to do a Recertification form to keep their SNAP can now do the form entirely by phone by talking to a DTA case manager. This is a good option for those who cannot do the paperwork through their DTAConnect.com account or by fax or by mail. However, recently it has been difficult at times to reach DTA due to high call volumes. If you are working with a household who would benefit from doing the Recertification by phone, we recommend reaching out to the DTA Ombuds if the household is unable to get through the phone lines. 
 
For more information about options to get paperwork to DTA during COVID-19 and to learn more about this option, see the MLRI google doc
 
Massachusetts still has highest unemployment rate in the country & rates are disproportionately higher in communities of color.
 
In July, MA - for the second month in a row - had the highest unemployment rate in the country at 16.1%. We also wanted to share this news article from State House News that clearly lays out that communities of color in MA are facing significantly higher rates of unemployment:
 
"Much like the pandemic's health impacts, the economic upheaval has been disproportionately borne by communities of color.  Among the 10 Massachusetts cities and towns with the highest unemployment rates in July, eight -- Lawrence, Springfield, Brockton, Lynn, Holyoke, Chelsea, Randolph and Malden -- count a majority of their residents as nonwhite, Hispanic or Latino, U.S. Census Bureau data show."
 
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This staggering - but not surprising - data reinforces the immense need in communities across MA. We have a critical window between now and early September to draw more attention - including media - to the ways that people are facing extreme hardship because Congress has not passed a robust COVID relief package. Congress is going to be back in session after Labor Day, so anything we can do between now and then to increase the pressure is valuable - we need to #BoostSNAPnow! Please reach out if you have questions on data, messaging, or other information that would be helpful for any media you are doing - and please share stories as they come out across the state! 
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