Important updates below. Our next SNAP Coalition meeting will be Tuesday 4/26 at 10 AM. Here is the Zoom link, agenda to come.
MLRI Analysis of FY23 House Ways and Means Budget
Here’s a link to our budget analysis of selected sections of the FY23 State Budget including appropriations and line items impacting DTA’s cash and food assistance benefits, MassHealth, DHCD housing and homelessness services, criminal justice reform, DCF child welfare and more.
A couple of highlights for the SNAP Coalition:
School Meals: HUGE Congrats to the FeedKids Campaign for successfully securing $110M to extend universal free school meals in SY22/23. While this is not part of our analysis, we extend a deep bow and urge you to thank House Leadership and your members for this win. Onto the Senate.
HIP: Congrats again to the HIP campaign, securingn $10M in appropriations plus an anticipated $8M in unspent HIP money from the current fiscal year that will be available in FY23. Another hat’s off!
Common App: The budget does not include Outside Section language that would move MA toward a true Common Application for more needs-based benefits (like fuel assistance, childcare and more). While EOHHS and DTA are actively implementing the “SNAP Gap” changes to MassHealth, the Common App is the next important step. See CommonWealth Op Ed of 3/18/22. Please ask your Reps to co-sponsor Rep Jay Livingstone’s Amendment #196.(scroll down to find the text at the Amendment number.)
Cash benefits: The HWM budget increases cash assistance (TAFDC and EAEDC) because of increased demand, but does not increase the grant amounts, which are woefully low. Please support Rep Marjorie Decker’s Amendments #181 and #182 -both top priorities for the Lift Our Kids Campaign. You can Take Action HERE.
Ukrainian Evacuees being denied SNAP benefits.
MLRI, Central West Justice Center and MIRA are working with members of Congress to resolve an issue impacting newly arriving Ukrainian evacuees. We have learned that Ukrainians coming to the US from the Southern Border are being given Humanitarian Parole status of 364 days - ONE day less than the required 365 days needed for humanitarian parolees to qualify for SNAP benefits. (Qualified children are SNAP eligible, as are adults who get certain disability-based benefits, and otherwise there is a 5-year waiting period for most adult immigrants.) Unfortunately under current federal SNAP rules, DTA is not permitted to approve SNAP benefits. We are hoping to get the length of parole resolved quickly. If you are aware of these families, please let Pat Baker of MLRI know ASAP and we can work with you to connect these families to Legal Services. PBaker@mlri.org
Other benefits: While we continue to advocate for the Parole status to get resolved, please remember that immigrant families - from Ukraine or any other country - are eligible for the National School Lunch Program for free/reduced price school meals. While all school meals are free right now (and hopefully next school year too if the Feed Kids campaign is successful!), applying for free/reduced price school meals is how school kids not at CEP schools connect to Pandemic EBT benefits - and hundreds of dollars of P-EBT for the summer of 2022. Let us know if immigrant families have issues applying for NSLP/connecting to P-EBT.
Plus, immigrant families may also be eligible for WIC for pregnant people and children under age 5. Neither of these programs have the same restrictive immigrant eligibility rules SNAP does. And some of the Ukrainian parolees may also be eligible for EAEDC cash benefits through DTA if they are age 65+, disabled or possibly meet other criteria.
Public Charge comments - Have your organization sign onto the national PIF letter by Thursday, April 21!
Our national partners, Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) are leading the charge in securing public comments to the Biden Administration’s proposed regulations amending the public charge rules. The proposed regulations would make permanent the public charge policy that has been in place since 1999. The Trump Administration temporarily changed the rules, but thankfully the Biden Administration rescinded the harmful Trump Admin changes. Having final public charge rules in place will make it harder for a future Administration to undo the policy, as well as improve some of the guidance to ensure that most immigrants will be able to access benefits for which they qualify without immigration consequences.
We encourage Massachusetts organizations to sign on to the national comments prepared by the PIF network. The national PIF comments can be viewed here, and the form to sign-on is available here. The deadline to sign on is April 21, 2022.
And, a reminder that it is safe for immigrants to get the benefits they or their children are eligible for. Here is the letter from USDA and USCIS in English and Spanish encouraging immigrant families to connect to the federal nutrition benefits they are eligible for!
Federal Public Health Emergency Declaration extended until mid July
The Biden Administration renewed the emergency declaration again. This means, assuming Massachusetts continues to request permission from FNS, that Emergency Allotments will continue through at least August. If the declaration is not renewed again, the final Emergency Allotments - the boost in SNAP all households currently get due to COVID - will be paid out in early September 2022.
Wegmans has joined SNAP Online Ordering in MA
For a list of all retailers in MA who accept SNAP for online ordering, visit Mass.gov/SNAPonline