The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

COVID-19 4/8: DTA data & update on SNAP interviews, P-EBT, WIC stocking, etc.

Thank you all for the work you are doing during this wildly hard time. We cannot say that enough!! We will have our weekly COVID-19 Coalition Zoom call again on 4/14 at 10 AM. 
 
Below  is data from DTA on COVID-19 application and call volume, a preliminary update on interview procedures at DTA, guidance on Pandemic EBT and public charge, additional translations for SNAP fliers, and an update on WIC stocking. 
 
Updates from DTA: Application & call volume data, changes to interview procedures
 
DTA shared the following data on Tuesday's Zoom call:
  • Application volume: DTA typically gets about 900 SNAP applications/day, currently they are seeing about 3,000/day. See today's WGBH piece for more data on SNAP and cash assistance applications. From the week of 3/9 to the week of 3/30, SNAP applications increased by 282%.  
  • Usually DTA's statewide Assistance Line gets about 2,700 calls/day - they are currently getting about 12,000/day. This means a significant number of callers can't get into the hold queue - they are hearing the "high call volume" message and are automatically disconnected. We & DTA know this is a huge access barrier. 
  • DTA had 0 documents that had not been reviewed (a "backlog") for a long time, but currently has a 27,000 document backlog.
Also see today's powerful WGBH article for more DTA data on the extent of the crisis - along with a quote from Pat that we can all echo: "Massachusetts said, 'We need to feed people now. We're telling people to stay home, and they need the benefits now. We're really proud of how Massachusetts is handling this crisis."  
 
Second, DTA announced they are implementing significant changes to the SNAP application interview procedures. FNS is allowing states to waive the interview in 2 situations:
 
1. When issuing expedited SNAP, can issue the expedited before having an interview if identity is verified. 
2. When processing an application where all mandatory verifications are provided, no interview is required. 
 
This is a very significant and positive change. We will share more details on the interview changes soon. As always, check the google doc for most up to date info (it is easiest to navigate via the headers on the left side).
 
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) update & P-EBT does not impact public charge!
 
DTA shared on the Coalition call yesterday that they submitted their plan to FNS on Pandemic EBT on Tuesday morning. We do not yet have more details - more to come on a timeline and roll out details. 
 
For an overview of P-EBT and what is to come, please see the P-EBT section of the google doc .
 
Also, the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign has put together a very helpful resource on public charge and different elements of the CARES Act - click here to review. Note that Pandemic EBT is not relevant for public charge (and reminder that households eligible for SNAP are by definition almost always exempt from public charge). 
 
COVID-19 & SNAP fliers translated into additional languages  
  • ABAWD flier re. no time limit during COVID-19 translated into Spanish.
  • Flier for workers who lost their job and need to access SNAP translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.  
  • Extra supplemental SNAP payments flier translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.
All fliers also posted on the Google Doc and on MassLegalServices.org/DTA-COVID-19
  
Update on WIC stocking rules for eggs and bread
 
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, WIC is temporarily expanding allowable items for Eggs and Whole Grain Bread. Please see the attached notice for details. WIC will also have a notification on the WICShopper app and their website. Visit Mass.gov/wic for updated information and social media platforms WIC Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
File Attachment: 
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PDF icon MA_WIC_Temporary_Food_List_changes.pdf607.66 KB

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