We are providing you with more updates federal and state level issues, the FRAC call tomorrow (Friday at 2 PM) and our upcoming Coalition call next week.
SNAP supplemental emergency benefits
You may have heard through your networks that USDA has given approval to MA and a few other states (that made early requests) to issue emergency supplemental SNAP benefits in March (and April). This is one of the nutrition provisions in the Families First Act, signed March 18th. HUGE Tnx to DTA for making this ask early!! Note: These supplemental SNAP benefits will “top off” the SNAP benefits for current households, up to the maximum SNAP benefit for the household size. (USDA told states that households that get the max SNAP will not get a supplement.)
The March supplemental SNAP benefits have NOT been issued yet. We know that the approved states, including MA, are actively working out the logistics to issue the benefits ASAP, as well as minimize any hiccups around issuance (for those of you remember, MA had multiple EBT retailer outages in 2019 during the "Govt Shutdown.") We have gotten emails from many folks about this, but please be patient. Once DTA officially announces how and when the supplemental SNAP benefits are to be issued, we will notify you. We also do NOT have information yet on the additional pandemic EBT (P-EBT benefit), which will be distributed to both SNAP and all free/reduced-price status children to replace K-12 school meals, but will keep you posted. Stay tuned.
DTA information, Project Bread School Meal Site Info & updated MLRI resources
As shared during the SNAP Coalition call on Tuesday:
- USDA SNAP Waivers: USDA approved DTA's request to postpone Interim Reports and Recertifications that are due in March, April, or May for 6 months. Clients may still get this paperwork in the mail - but should not be cut off if they don't do the paperwork or if DTA gets it but doesn't have the capacity to process it right now. This means folks who are on the caseload now should stay on SNAP for the next 6 months without interruption. You can see the letter from FNS to DTA here. DTA has requested other waivers to simplify SNAP processing and we will keep you posted.
- DTA has posted a COVID-19 webpage here: Mass.gov/info-details/
- School meal sites: Project Bread is keeping an updated school meal resource list and map of the school districts offering prepackaged meals for school age children. This is a fantastic resource, HUGE thx to Project Bread as well as the MA LS AmeriCorps helping keep that website updated.
- Updated SNAP Fliers: MLRI has updated the SNAP flier for workers who have lost pay as a result of COVID-19. Tnx to AmeriCorps member Olivia St. Pierre, it's also posted in Spanish here: Masslegalservices.org/
- EBT purchases during pandemic. Remember that any SNAP household member can go food shopping, whether their name or pix is on the EBT card (the back of the card confirms that); and any SNAP household member can authorize a trusted third party (e.g. a relative or friend) to help food shop as well. If that person is regularly food shopping for the SNAP household, best to then have the SNAP household send a note to DTA (by mail, fax or DTA Connect) if the household plans to have that third party be an “authorized rep” – but no need to set that up in advance.
- Online EBT purchasing? We've received lots of questions about that. MA is not one of the current states piloting online EBT purchasing (for ex, with Amazon or WalMart). It will take some time to get this in place, and may be quite limited to the very large grocers. BUT EBT grocers can still offer curbside “click, collect and pay” with SNAP EBT. See description here. Doing this does NOT require a USDA waiver. We urge folks to contact local supermarkets, grocers and farmers markets (many of whom have mobile EBT POS devices) to ask if they are offering phone or on-line ordering and then curbside pick up/pay options. (Yes, we realize this does not help folks without rides to a store, but it may help folks who have a shopper or can get a ride). Keep us posted on what you learn.
We are keeping relevant SNAP information including updates on DTA’s SNAP processing policies and issuance of benefits updated on our google doc HERE.
$2 trillion bi-partisan federal package moving quickly to President's desk - no SNAP boosts included
The massive federal legislation (the third major COVID-19 legislation) was passed by the Senate, the House is expected to vote on the package on Friday. The package includes a number of provisions that support some low-wage workers. It does not include any boosts to the maximum SNAP grant or any other additional SNAP funds for households. The package includes SNAP dollars to help fund the anticipated surge in the SNAP caseload, but does not boost the SNAP benefits beyond what’s in the Families First Act, above. Here is a helpful explanation from CBPP's Stacy Dean on Twitter, and an overview of what's in the bill from Politico.
Zoom call in info for Tuesday's Coalition meeting 3/31 - 10-11:30 AM
We will be having weekly Coalition calls. We expect there to be significant updates between now and Tuesday as things continue to change very quickly. Please tune in, and feel free to share our eblasts widely.
Here is the standing call in information for the next few weeks:
Join Zoom Meeting online:
Meeting ID: 209 236 814
Join Zoom Meeting by phone:
National FRAC call Friday @ 2 PM on COVID-19