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 over 700,000 residents (based on state data from December 2020). 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 low-income households. Most states implement a single eligibility system. It's time to close the SNAP Gap in Massachusetts!
Interactive SNAP Gap Map updated in March 2021 - Click HERE
This map identifies the number of individual MassHealth recipeints with gross income under 150% FPL who are eligible for but not receiving SNAP food benefits. This is DTA data from December 2020. The DTA data is broken down by zip code, city or town and House and Senate Legislators District. It also includes a breakdown by age. Check out the SNAP Gap interactive map! .
We need to address the SNAP Gap and bring home 100% federal nutrition dollars:
State legislation filed for 2021 by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Jay Livingstone calls on the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to:
- Allow both MassHealth and Medicare Savings Program applicants with incomes under 200% federal poverty apply for SNAP at the same time.
- Requires the state to take steps toward creating a "common application" for other needs-based programs like child care, hosuing, fuel assistance.
- Requires the Department of Transitional Assistance to apply for DTA cash assistance at the same time as SNAP.
Just the facts! Providing SNAP to 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 nearly $1 Billiion in additional federal SNAP nutrition dollars to the State each year
- Generate over $2 billion in economic stimulus to the state and local economy
Research - SNAP improves health/reduces health care costs:
- Children's HealthWatch and the Greater Boston Food Bank: An Avoidable $2.4 Billion Cost: The Estimated Health-Related Costs of Food Insecurity and Hunger in Massachusetts
- Preventing Chronic Disease, October 2018. Linked the post-recession decrease in SNAP benefits to increased Medicaid admission growth and- nationally-$6.4 billion in additional Medicaid inpatient costs.
- American Journal of Managed Care, September 2018. Food insecurity was associated with more emergency department visits, hospitalizations, days hospitalized, outpatient visits, and health care costs.
- The Journal of Pediatrics, May 2018. Found that household food insecurity during early childhood was associated with decreases in family health and well-being, especially among households with preschool-aged children.
- JAMA Internal Medicine, September 2017. Mass General Hospital research, found SNAP enrollment is associated with reduced health care spending among low-income American adults and that encouraging SNAP enrollment among eligible adults may help reduce health care costs in the United States. See also MGH media advisory.
Media on the SNAP gap:
"Thousands Wait In Lines At Food Pantries. They Could Be Shopping At Grocery Stores." WGBH, February 12, 2021.
- "Senate passes amendment to create common application for MassHealth, food stamps." MassLive, May 23, 2019.
"Advocates renew push for common application for welfare benefits." MassLive, April 12, 2019.
Boston Mayor Walsh announces the City of Boston supports closing the SNAP gap as part of his 2019 legislative agenda.
- Seniors blast State for "failing our elders." State House News Service, March 11/12, 2019: WickedLocal Somerville, South Coast Today, Milford Daily News