It's time to close the Massachusetts "SNAP Gap" !
What is the MA SNAP Gap?
The SNAP Gap is the difference between the number of low-income Massachusetts residents receiving MassHealth who are likely SNAP eligible and the number of people actually receiving SNAP. In Massachusetts, the size of this gap is currently about 680,000 people. For many years the state has administered these food and health programs separately. This means the application process and collection of documents is duplicated for both Masshealth and SNAP. This creates more work for the state and for clients. Most states implement a single eligibility system. It's time to close the SNAP Gap in Massachusetts!
We can address the SNAP Gap and bring home 100% federal nutrition dollars if we:
- Create a common application portal to let low income households apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time.
- Identify state resources for IT systems improvements, using the same client data and verifications more efficiently!
- Puruse 50% federal reimbursement for state dollars used to hire more SNAP case workers.
Providing SNAP to all eligible MA households will:
- Help more low-income residents meet basic food expenses and reduce food insecurity
- Reduce health care costs for families and individuals able to purchase more food
- Enable more low income children to be "directly certified" for free school meals through SNAP
- Increase the opportunity for more schools to provide universal free meals
- Bring over $800M in federal SNAP nutrition dollars to the State each year
- Generate over $2 billion in economic stimulus to the state and local economy
Interactive Map of the SNAP Gap in local cities and towns:
Research on the impact of hunger on health:
- MLRI fact sheet on research confirming how SNAP improves health and reduces health care costs.
- Study finding that Medicaid cost growth fell in MA during the period of time SNAP was boosted by ARRA. Study published in the American Journal of Public Health by Rajan Sonik, JD/MPH at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University (and MLRI volunteer attorney!) Abstract can be found here.
- Mental health tops list of hunger’s health costs – Bread for the World, March 29, 2016. The Bread for the World Institute study estimates that hunger costs the U.S. at least $160 billion in poor health outcomes and additional healthcare expenses.
Media on the SNAP gap:
- Masslive Op Ed by MLRI and Children's Healthwatch: Good nutrition is both sound economic policy and effective preventive medicine (June 3, 2016)
Masslive article about the SNAP gap and a common application: Senate considers merging applications for MassHealth, food stamps (May 26, 2016)