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federal & state updates, action items, & trainings

Greetings SNAP Coalition members.  

First, we want to name our collective mourning after the murders of 8 people, including 6 Asian American women, in Georgia on Tuesday. MLRI stands against racial hatred, discrimination, white supremacy, and terrorism and will continue to work to counteract the harmful effects it has on our society and on our communities of color. MLRI's full statement on recent acts of racially-motivated violence is posted here. 

Second, we hope many of you got to attend the fantastic National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference on March 16th and 17th.  USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack called for states to maximize household access to federal nutrition benefits, break down barriers for all communities - especially communities of color - and create “hassle free” access, and ensure policy changes are informed by persons with lived experience. It was an amazing conference. 

Last but not least, below are a number of SNAP and P-EBT updates. 

On the national level:

SNAP Access for College Students - Federal Legislation: 

US. Rep Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) has re-introduced The Enhance Access to SNAP (EATS) Act of 2021 – H.R. 1919. The EATS Act would permanently expand SNAP eligibility to college students. It would eliminate the long-standing work-for-food SNAP rules that require many students (who are not otherwise exempt) to prove that they have a federal work study job or work 20 hours per week in order to receive SNAP. Rep Gomez is looking for Reps to co-sponsor the bill as well as endorsing organizations. As of March 15, Representatives Jim McGovern, Ayanna Pressley, Lori Trahan, Jake Auchincloss and Seth Moulton have all signed on as early bill cosponsors.   And here is Rep Gomez’  EATS Act press release that has been published.   

TWO Action Steps

1)      we need help getting 100% of the MA House delegation on Rep Gomez' bill  by reaching out to Reps Richie Neal, Katherine Clark, Stephen Lynch, and Bill Keating! 

2)      we welcome your organization to list itself as an endorsing organization in support of the bill.  Please fill out this Google Form HERE   

SNAP and the ABAWD Time Limits – Federal Legislation  

US. Rep Barbara Lee has re-introduced a bill to repeal the ABAWD time limit/work rules  (the 3 month time limit for certain childless, non disabled adults – that has been suspended since April 2020 due to the pandemic!).  This is a top priority as we move forward – the ABAWD time limit is extremely punitive and has a disproportionate impact on Black adults and adults struggling with homelessness, unemployment or underemployment, post incarceration, etc.  As of today, Representatives Jim McGovern and Ayanna Pressley have signed on as bill cosponsors – please call your Rep and ask that they co-sponsor this critical legislation!  

On the state level:

P-EBT and School Nutrition Updates and Action steps 

·         P-EBT will be issued on 3/25: Reminder that P-EBT will be issued on 3/25 for eligible students in hybrid or virtual models in February AND for all children 0-5 who are part of a SNAP household. DTA will be issuing retroactive PEBT payments for both of these groups in early April. For more information, see MApEBT.org

 

·         Updated lists of unpinned P-EBT cards sent to districts: DTA recently notified us that on March 17th local school districts were sent a list of their enrolled students with un-pinned P-EBT cards (for obvious privacy reasons, those lists cannot be shared with community partners).  NOW is the time to reach out to school districts and urge them to proactively reach out to those students. 

 

·         24,000 children issued P-EBT who were “missed” in 2020: On March 12, DTA issued retroactive P-EBT to about 24,000 children who were missed in 2020 (spring and/or September 2020). DTA sent notices and text messages to this group of families.  

 

·         School districts and promoting CEP for School Year 21/22: It is not too late to start conversations with local school districts about whether they will apply for the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for next school year.  This works for school districts – or individual schools within a district – that have a sufficiently high number of children who were directly certified for free school meals. Children can be directly certified if they get SNAP, TAFDC, Medicaid (under 130% FPL) or are children in foster care, homeless or migrant. 

 

Project Bread has created a terrific Tableau map showing the school districts potentially eligible for CEP in the upcoming year, based on last-years’ student data. We do not have the most recent data yet, and with a 25% increase in the SNAP caseload since the start of the pandemic, we expect even more districts to qualify.  If you are interesting in joining a strategy call with MLRI and Project Bread next week to discuss what you can do in your school district to promote CEP, please email Pat Baker to learn more: pbaker@mlri.org  

Public Charge and SNAP myth-busting / talking points - updated! 

MLRI has updated our SNAP myth-busting and talking points to reflect the very positive halt to the punitive Trump Administration public charge rules. We will have more information to share on dispelling fear and public charge concerns in light of the news, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services is also updating its materials. But in the meantime, if you are working with an immigrant and they have concerns about SNAP, it is safe to not only get SNAP but also many other means-tested benefits that immigrants and their dependents qualify for.  For SNAP, please check out the myth-busting fact sheet.

MCLE Trainings on Veterans and Immigrant Benefits 

  • COVID-19 and Veterans’ Benefits – Monday, March 22 from 2-4 PM: The economic impact of the pandemic has meant some households are eligible for certain housing, financial, and nutritional benefits that may never have accessed these forms of assistance before. While some of these resources are unique to the pandemic, others are specifically for military veterans. However, navigating these programs and how they work together can present a range of challenges. This program provides an overview of these benefits, along with the traditional benefits that have been modified due to the Pandemic. Click here to register. 
  • MLRI: Immigrants and Public Benefits – Thursday, April 8 from 9:30-4 pm:  Training on which immigrants are eligible for key health, food, cash, housing and other public benefits;  the recent Biden Administration action rescinding the Trump Admin “public charge” rules;  an overview of the most commonly seen types of immigration status and documents that immigrants are issued, and more. This training is a full day to cover a wide range of immigration and benefits issues.  To register, click here.