The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is applauding the decision by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to strike down a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would have stripped away SNAP benefits from hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of Americans. Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell vacated the rule that would have limited the ability of certain childless adults to access SNAP (formerly food stamps) on October 19th after issuing a preliminary injunction against it in March.
“This is a significant win for those who care about the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable underemployed and unemployed workers, as we continue to find ways to fight food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Vicky Negus, a policy advocate at MLRI. “The effort by the Trump Administration to push this rule through was consistent with their continued war on people living in poverty, but it was particularly cruel to pursue it during an economic crisis where millions of Americans – and half a million Massachusetts families — need SNAP to help put food on the table.”
MLRI worked with a coalition of organizations across the country to speak out against the rule change. The lawsuit that brought an end to the rule change was filed by 15 state Attorneys General (including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey) and New York City. MLRI submitted a declaration as part of the suit and also contributed to an amicus brief submitted by three legal aid organizations. Additionally, the institute submitted extensive written comments opposing the rule change and led the anti-hunger community’s response to the rule – providing expertise on its impact, organizing a statewide commenting campaign, and ensuring the voices of Massachusetts organizations and SNAP recipients were heard in the process.
“It is encouraging to see so many push back on the destructive efforts by the Trump Administration to punish people for the alleged ‘crimes’ of losing their jobs and living in poverty, and especially heartening to see the U.S. Federal Court system do so. MLRI will continue to work with our elected leaders – including Attorney General Maura Healey, who has tirelessly worked to support vulnerable populations – advocates, and others to ensure that all Americans can put food on the table,” said Georgia Katsoulomitis, MLRI’s executive director.
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Victoria Negus – Victoria (Vicky) Negus is a Policy Advocate at MLRI, who focuses on federal nutrition programs and food security. She has extensive knowledge about Massachusetts’ Department of Transitional Assistance’s (DTA) systems and policies, and her work has improved access to DTA benefits for tens of thousands of Massachusetts families. She is co-author of the SNAP Advocacy Guide and co-coordinates the Massachusetts SNAP Coalition. She also provides technical assistance and trainings to local, state, and national community organizations on SNAP policy issues.
Patricia Baker – Patricia (Pat) Baker is a Senior Policy Analyst MLRI, who works at both the state and federal level on a range of legislative, administrative, and policy matters that affect low-income families, elders and persons with disabilities. She has authored and edited numerous publications, including the SNAP Advocacy Guide, and co-authored and contributed to several national reports for the Food Research Action Center and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Through her advocacy and leadership, Massachusetts has adopted state policy changes and federal options that have both removed access barriers and increased the value of monthly SNAP benefits.
If you are interested in speaking with either Victoria Negus or Patricia Baker about food insecurity, please contact Suzanne Morse at email@example.com or by phone at 617-646-1020.
About the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) is a nonprofit poverty law and policy center. It provides statewide advocacy and leadership in advancing laws, policies, and practices that secure economic, racial, and social justice for low-income people and communities. MLRI advances its mission through legal initiatives and policy reforms that address the root causes of poverty, remove barriers to opportunity, and create a path to economic stability for low-income individuals, families, and communities. For more information, please visit www.mlri.org or follow us on Twitter (@MassLawReform) and Facebook.