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impact of omnibus in MA -Feb end to emergency allotments, positive skimming changes

We are reaching out with a lot of information - some of which is positive, and some of which will be extremely challenging for Massachusetts families in 2023. We know there is a lot to absorb in this email. The most critical action step is to rest up - we have a lot to do in 2023. 

 

 

We are hosting a special Coalition meeting on Tuesday, January 10 from 10-11:30 to talk about a lot of this. DTA will be at that meeting as well. In the meantime, we will share out updates as they become available. Zoom link for the 1/10 meeting is here. 

 

We hope you have a safe, healthy, and rejuvenating rest of the holiday season with loved ones. 

The 2023 federal Omnibus - wins and losses for SNAP households, impact in MA  

 

Yesterday, Congress released draft language for the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act (the “omnibus” bill). Our sense from media reports is the bill will be voted on very soon (tonight through tomorrow). Once final, the bill would have two significant impacts on SNAP:

 

  1. The Act implements a permanent Summer EBT program starting in 2024 - but offsets the cost of Summer EBT by ending SNAP Emergency Allotments in February and reducing P-EBT amounts for summer 2023 (to $120 per child - an approximately $270/child cut).

 

If this bill becomes law, as we expect it will, the last Emergency Allotment payment to all ~630,000 Massachusetts SNAP households will be for the month of February (issued around March 2). All households will lose at least $95 per month in SNAP. About 60% of SNAP households will lose more than $95. On average, each recipient will lose about $82 per month when the EAs sunset. 

 

The Coalition for Human Needs put it well: “Anti-hunger advocates know how important it is for children in low-income families to get enough to eat during the summer months when school meals are not available. It is simply wrong to cut short emergency SNAP benefits despite continuing high food price inflation to pay for children’s summer meals….The richest people do make gains in the omnibus…. Only where programs are of most benefit to people with the lowest incomes is there an insistence that similar aid is cut. This is short-sighted and wrong.” See also FRAC’s statement posted here.

 

MLRI’s statement says: “MLRI supports expansion of child nutrition programs; MLRI does not support reducing SNAP and federal nutrition benefits in order to make investments in child nutrition. The United States has the fiscal resources to improve food security for children in the long term without harming food security for millions in the short term.”

 

Your help is pivotal in January and February to reduce the harm of this cliff on families - in large part by working with SNAP households who don’t get the maximum grant to claim SNAP deductions and make sure their income and expenses are accurate and up to date to maximize SNAP. Tune in to the 1/10 Coalition meeting to learn more. We also plan to do trainings/info sharing in early 2023 on this. 

 

  1. The Act helps families whose SNAP is stolen by skimming: Among other positive skimming related pieces, the bill requires that states - with federal dollars - replace SNAP benefits stolen through skimming between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2024 (up to a maximum of two months of benefits). The process involves approval of a plan with USDA’s FNS and other steps. We do not know yet when this process will be set up or when DTA will start issuing replacement SNAP . Please tune in to the January 10 meeting for any updates! Also, please tell us about any families you know of who had SNAP stolen by skimming. 

 

While the bill text goes a long way towards protecting families who are victims of skimming, it does not replace benefits stolen before October 2022. MLRI urges the Healey-Driscoll Administration to replace SNAP benefits stolen between June and October 2022. 

 

Please thank our Congressional delegation for their leadership championing this in the omnibus!!

 

See MLRI’s statement and the NBC article posted today, quoting our colleague Betsy Gwin, about this hugely positive update!