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At a Glance SNAP charts, DTA data, Public Charge, other updates

A few updates below. Our next Coalition meeting will be next Tuesday, October 12 from 10-11:30 - Zoom link below. As a "second Tuesday" meeting, we will have two guests to share information and answer questions:
1. Greater Boston Legal Services' Sarah Levy will share information about how families can access free or subsidized child care.  
2. Charles Baldwin with the Mass Cultural Council will share an overview of the EBT Card to Culture program. 
We will also have time for general updates and questions/issue flagging. 
Click here for Zoom link or call in:
Updated MLRI resources - Oct 1 Thrifty Food Plan boost to SNAP
  • Updated flier for community partners on the Emergency Allotments (the COVID extra emergency SNAP payments) to explain how SNAP issuance works right now in Massachusetts and share maximum grant amounts, including with the Emergency Allotment plus ups. 
  • Updated "At A Glance charts" for working families, older adults/persons with disabilities, and unemployed workers, along with benchmarks chart for when claiming medical expenses makes a difference in boosting SNAP. These resources can provide a sense of whether certain types of households are eligible for a SNAP benefit amount - but we always encourage you to check the SNAP math!  
  • Online SNAP calculator is updated. All SNAP calculator options you can use to estimate regular SNAP benefit amounts (without the Emergency Allotment) are posted here
DTA data: increase to the caseload during COVID
Attached is data shared by DTA verbally during last Tuesday's Coalition meeting. The bulk of the increase has been from kids, working age adults, and - more recently - immigrant families.
Massachusetts has seen a nearly 30% increase to the SNAP caseload since March 2020 - one of the largest (if not the largest) increases in the country. We are very thankful for the work DTA has done to make SNAP more accessible and to continue many federal COVID options - but despite the caseload increase, we know many eligible households struggle to connect with SNAP. For example, despite an increase in eligible immigrant families getting SNAP, many are still afraid to access benefits they are eligible for (for ex, see MassINC survey results from this summer). We have updated mythbusting messages for SNAP posted here, including for immigrant families. 
In terms of more data, DTA posts monthly data on their Scorecards here. And below is a chart of the SNAP caseload since the pandemic began. 
Public Charge updates and submitting comments to the Biden Administration in October 
As Coalition members know, in March 2021, the Biden Administration withdrew the harmful public charge regulation which had been published during the prior administration. In August 2021, the Biden Administration published an "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPRM) asking for feedback to help guide the development of a new regulation on public charge. The MA Protecting Immigrant Families (MA PIF) - comprised of MLRI, Mass Immigrant and Advocacy Coalition, Health Care for All and Health Care Advocates - will be submitting detailed legal comments to the Biden Administration. Public comments on the ANPRM can be submitted until October 22, 2021. The National Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) will also be submitting both detailed comments as well as an organizational sign on letter.  At this time we recommend your organization sign on to the letter, once available.  As soon as we have the organizational sign on letter from National PIF, we will let you know. For more information on public charge and the strategy for the comment process, go HERE
DTA policy update: Workers will call SNAP households missing Recertification paperwork 
DTA recently made an adjustment so that workers affirmatively call households who have to complete Recertification paperwork but haven't gotten the form back to DTA. If the client picks up, DTA will complete the Recertification over the phone. This is a very positive change that the Coalition has recommended for many years. DTA data shows that LEP households close at disproportionately higher rates than English households -  so we are particularly hopeful this policy change will decrease the number of eligible Limited English Proficient households who lose SNAP at the point of Recertification because of paperwork barriers. Please let us know what your clients are experiencing when they have to recertify for SNAP (after 12 months for most households, or 36 months for EDSAP cases - elder/disabled households with no earnings). 
Children's HealthWatch
Children's HealthWatch released a powerful new policy brief we encourage Coalition members to read: A Bulwark Against the Storm: The unequal impact of COVID relief policies on families with young children
Their research reinforces our message that equitable SNAP improvements are critical to reducing food insecurity and hardship moving forward. Overview from Children's HealthWatch:
New longitudinal research from Children's HealthWatch shows that compared to pre-pandemic levels, food insecurity and being behind on rent increased significantly for families with young children from September 2020 to March 2021. Compared to pre-pandemic levels/baseline, families with immigrant mothers had higher odds of increased economic hardship during the pandemic than those with US-born mothers. Research also showed families with immigrant mothers reported lower rates of participation in SNAP than families with US-born mothers. Equitable policies that reduce economic hardships for families most impacted during the pandemic are urgently needed.

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