We have a number of updates and a lot of information, below. Next week's SNAP Coalition meeting will be from 10-11:30 on Tuesday, 1/19. Agenda to come!
P-EBT: Oct/Nov P-EBT info/resources and updated list of CEP districts
DTA shared they issued P-EBT on 1/11 for October and November to a group of students who were not included in the 12/30 issuance (because their districts were delayed in getting data to the Department of Early and Secondary Education).
To see excellent resources on P-EBT, including fliers in multiple languages, see MAp-EBT.org.
We also posted on our webpage here an updated list of Community Eligibility Provision schools and school districts - all kids enrolled in a CEP school are eligible for P-EBT.
Treatment of federal Pandemic Unemployment Comp for SNAP:
DTA Benefits: Reminder that the $300/week boost in unemployment - that folks began getting today - DOES NOT COUNT for SNAP! As DTA has shared on Mass.gov here, folks do NOT need to tell DTA about this $300/week boosted Unemployment income! This is different than in the spring (when the $600/week boost was counted). Those who get unemployment and whose household income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level should apply for SNAP ASAP!
Upcoming Trainings on Veterans Benefits, Unemployment and SNAP:
· Cash Benefits for MA Veterans and Dependents – Free Training Thursday, Jan 14th at 10 AM
Veterans Legal Services and MLRI are hosting a free zoom training this Thursday on this important cash assistance program for low income veterans and their dependents. Massachusetts is the only state in the United States that has a state and locally-funded means-tested cash assistance (and medical assistance). Known as "Chapter 115” benefits, the monthly cash benefit is often 2 to 4 times higher than DTA TAFDC or EAEDC cash benefits. Fill out the Google Form HERE to register for a free training.
· SNAP 101 Basic Benefits Training- Wed, Feb 3 from 9:30-12:30
MLRI is continuing with its annual Basic Benefits SNAP 101 training, this year with a focus on how DTA and SNAP benefits are operating during COVID. This ½ day training is sponsored by Mass Continuing Legal Education. To register, go HERE (remember, check “non-attorney advocate” to get the lower $35 registration fee). To see all the upcoming Basic Benefits Trainings, go HERE.
· Unemployment Benefits During Covid-19 –Training on Thursday, Jan 21st 5 PM
Greater Boston Legal Services is hosting a free Zoom training on unemployment benefits on Thurs, January 21, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Unemployment benefits are an extremely important support for many families - we encourage you to tune in and learn what's going on to be able to connect your clients with resources! Click here to learn more about the training and to register.
Data on SNAP caseload and other DTA data
The number of households getting SNAP in MA has increased by 19% since March 1, 2020. See MLRI's chart, attached, showing the caseload growth during the pandemic. The demand DTA has had to contend with for the past 10 months is unprecedented, and makes reaching staff challenging for low-income households. For example, in October 54% of all calls made trying to reach a worker were disconnected due to high call volume - while that number dropped to 30% for November, that is still nearly 1 in 3 calls.
At the same time, DTA has implemented many important changes, including waiving Interim Reports, that have helped ensure many eligible families can get on SNAP and, once on, avoid procedural interruptions. To view DTA data, reminder that DTA posts monthly data on the DTA Performance Scorecards - including phone line data, caseload demographics, and more.
For more data, see this Lowell Sun press piece from a recent Lowell Hunger and Homelessness presentation.
Economic Impact Payments - Important FAQ!
The National Consumer Law Center has put together a set of FAQs on the recent round of $600 Economic Impact Payments. As with the last round (the $1,200 payments), we are concerned that the lowest income households have the most difficult time getting this payment. Please refer to this resource and share with others.
In addition to this FAQ, note that previously families with a spouse who did not have a Social Security Number were barred from these payments. That law has changed! If at least one spouse has an SSN, families are eligible for an Economic Impact Payment. See MLRI/GBLS FAQ here for more info.
The $600 payments do not count as income for any DTA benefits - just like with the $1,200 payments.
Improving SNAP Access for Older Adults, Lessons Learned from Massachusetts
In the fall of 2020, MLRI wrote a policy brief on SNAP access for older adults as part of the Advancing Strategies to Align Programs (ASAP) project supported by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Click here to read our report Improving SNAP Access for Older Adults: Lessons from Massachusetts on Breaking Down Barriers and Improving Retention. Please let Pat B. and Vicky N. know if any questions.
Again, SAVE the Date – Next SNAP Coalition Meeting - Tuesday, January 19th from 10 to 11:30 AM