The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Improved SNAP calculator: federal threats to SNAP eligibility rules (BBCE); MA community college anti-hunger bill

We are writing to give you a heads up about some nasty rules that USDA may be proposing in the near future, an update on pending college student legislation and some revisions to our .
 
1.  Trump Administration may soon issue harmful SNAP rules for public comment:
In anticipation of harmful SNAP rules that USDA may release for public comment any day now, we have updated an infographic on the "broad-based categorical eligibility" (BBCE) policy as well as examples of cases of families who will be harmed. BBCE is a federal option that most states have elected to both use a higher SNAP gross income test at 185% or 200% FPL, and eliminate the asset test.  The Trump Administration is threatening to issue regulation changes to limit the SNAP gross income to 130% FPL for working families (so before any child care or shelter deductions) and to impose a low asset test as well, impacting working families as well as elder and disabled households.  Here's  also a recent story in the Washington Post on this harmful policy. We are gearing up for submitting comments to USDA in opposition to this proposed rule change if and when it is posted. 
 
We urge you to identify current SNAP working families and individuals who could be harmed so that you can lift up their stories (with or without client identifiers).  It will be important to share those stories in written comments, social media and with members of our Congressional Delegation. 
 
2. Legislation to help MA community college students with food insecurity - State House hearing on July 23rd:
Senator Joanne Lovely and Rep Joan Meschino have filed legislation, Senate 757 and House 1233 which would permit the Department of Higher Education (DHE) to receive either state or private funding and then distribute the funds to community colleges that request funding to address student food insecurity on campus.  A hearing is scheduled before the Jt Committee on Higher Education for Tuesday, July 23rd. Attached is a fact sheet on this bill.  We encourage SNAP Coalition members to send testimony or letters of support or testimony in favor of this legislation. (Note, this legislation does not create any funding, nor impact 4 year colleges. Funding is done through the budget appropriations process).  But this legislation is a good first step toward addressing student food insecurity.  
 
In the fall, SNAP Coalition members will be organizing to file broader Hunger Free Campus legislation to address both two year and four year state colleges with additional provisions. Here's some recent National Institute of Health research on college student food insecurity in two and four year campuses  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6542079/  Here are two 2018 report on reasons for under-utilization of food pantries on campus and how food insecurity among students is a public health issue with implications for performance, retention and graduation rates 
 
3. Online SNAP Calculator improvements - Summary of  data inputs/benefit amount  and how to apply!
We are delighted to share with you another tool available to you if you use the Mass Legal Services SNAP Calculator.  Our MLRI website colleague Lily Yang has created a nifty option in the SNAP calculator that allows the user to print out a summary of the data input into the calculator and the estimated benefit amount (this is the yellow/orange "Print Summary" button at the bottom of the calculator.  This feature allows you to give clients a summary of the information you collected, the benefit estimate, how to apply and information about HIP and Legal Services. You can also print out a more detailed calculation with the aqua "print detail" button.  
 
Here's the link to the updated calculator: https://www.masslegalservices.org/content/online-snap-calculator
 
 
 
 
 

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