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Growing opposition to SNAP Cuts; Hearing on Meal Shaming legislation; Public Charge materials

Greetings to those of you in the work trenches during late August.  Extra cookies for you at the September 24th Boston SNAP Coalition meeting. Here are some important updates to inspire you to fight on!

Growing momentum against Trump Admin Proposed SNAP Cuts! #HandsOffSNAP

Virtually the entire MA Congressional Delegation submitted a strongly worded letter to USDA Secretary Perdue against the proposed SNAP cuts.  See attached letter of 8/8/19 advising Secretary Perdue that the proposed regulation “directly violates congressional intent” and that “Congress rejected this very proposal, on a bipartisan basis, in the 2018 Farm Bill.”  HUGE TY to Congressman McGovern for spearheading this letter.  We will urge Rep Moulton to send on an individual letter to USDA. 

Today the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) released a sign-on letter from 70 mayors pointing out the harm that the proposed SNAP Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility change will mean for residents and cities. Please join us in building on USCM’s initiative:

  • thank your mayors who signed on;
  • urge other mayors to add their names;
  • amplify the mayors’ voices on social media; and
  • encourage your mayors to submit individual comments to USDA.


Reminder re Massachusetts #HandsOffSNAP Webinar tomorrow, Thursday 8/22/19 at 11 AM.  This webinar one hour webinar, co-hosted by MLRI and Central West Justice Center, will help you understand what the current SNAP federal policy is, who will be harmed by the Trump Administration’s proposed rule changes and how you can file comments and get your community to weigh in.  You can still register and tune in. Please register by clicking here 

Public hearing on school meal debt “meal shaming” legislation 9/4/19:

The Joint Committee on Education recently notified us of a public hearing on September 4th, 11 AM at the State House on two bills:  an Act to Promote Student Nutrition (H. 585/S.256) and an Act to Expand Access to School Meals (H.584/S.257 – impacts kinship care children). 

More information on these bills, the fact sheets and the hearing can be found at our No Student Hungry Coalition webpage.  See also Boston Globe 6/13/19 article. If you are interested in testifying on these bills in person or in writing and are not getting emails from MLRI on them, send me a quick email.  

Public Charge Update and Materials:

First, multiple lawsuits against the Trump Administration’s public charge rules have been filed seeking to stop these punitive policies including a multi-state lawsuit with Massachusetts as one of the plaintiffs.  And another lawsuit filed yesterday by NY, VT and CT.  All excellent legal documents worth packing in your beach bag for end of summer reading and may result in the courts suspending these horrid rules.

Second, we have received many questions about SNAP and public charge.  We know that both the current rules, and the new rules going into effect mid-October – unless enjoined by a court – are very confusing.  We are resending the link to the excellent Protecting Immigrant Families materials (below).  

Here are some basic concepts to remember:

  • SNAP eligibility is already limited to low income US citizens and certain “qualified” immigrants and these SNAP rules have not changed.  That means Legal Permanent Residents (with a 5 year wait for most non-disabled LPR adults), certain battered immigrants, refugees and aslyees and certain other “qualified” immigrants only.  SNAP is NOT available to immigrants with pending applications for legal status, immigrants who are undocumented or who have non-immigrant visas (for ex, students, visitors, fiancé visas).  
  • Receipt of SNAP benefits by US citizen children or other household members will NOT trigger a public charge finding.  Even if a parent gets the SNAP EBT card for her kids, she is not a "SNAP recipient” unless she also gets benefits from DTA for her own needs.  As noted above, these immigrants are generally not SNAP eligible until a US citizen or qualified immigrant under the SNAP rules.
  • There is NO public charge test for LPRs applying for US citizenship (naturalizing).  
  • There is NO public charge test for refugees, asylees, battered immigrants - even when those immigrants file for LPR status. And NO public charge test for DACA, TPS or U or T visas.
  • There is NO public charge test at LPR “green card” renewal – LPR status generally does not change.  However, public charge may come up for LPRs who leave the US for 6 months or more and seek reentry.  Immigrants planning to travel outside the US for extended periods should talk to an immigration specialist before doing so.   

We strongly encourage you to read the excellent materials from the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign that covers a lot of this information and is worth sharing with your colleagues.  This “Public Charge: Getting the Help You Need” chart is especially helpful.  And you can refer clients to the legal services resources list on the MIRA webpage here:

Feel free to reach out to MLRI if you want to discuss specific questions that your clients are asking you. 

SAVE the DATE:  Tuesday. September 24th is both the Boston SNAP Coalition Meeting from 10 to Noon, and then a special Hunger Action event outside the State House, starting at 12:15.  More details to follow, but please try to spend the day in Boston defending and protecting anti-hunger programs in Massachusetts!

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