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Policy update on tax refunds; Upcoming Boston, WMass and Worcester Meetings !

The following are two food stamp/SNAP policy updates:

· Income Tax Refunds are Non-countable: DTA has recently notified staff that federal income tax refunds are non-countable as both income and assets for SNAP and TAFDC benefits. (Income tax refunds have always been non-countable as income). This change is a result of the Tax Relief, UI Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. It is likely that TAFDC households may have been affected by this more than the SNAP recipients (as there is no asset test under SNAP for most households). For more information on the income tax refund, here’s DTA’s Operations Memo 2011-55, available at: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/37064

· Updated SNAP Excel Calculator: Both MLRI and Project Bread have updated their Food Stamp/SNAP calculators with the current figures for the standard utility allowance (SUA) decrease and the slight changes in the shelter deduction (decreased $1) and standard deduction (increase $1 for small size households). For DTA policy announcing the April 2011 changes in these amounts, see Operations Memo 2011-14, available at: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/36593 .

Here’s MLRI’s excel calculator: http://www.masslegalservices.org/SNAPCalculator

Here’s Project Bread’s calculator: http://www.gettingsnap.org/qualify.htm

UPCOMING Coalition meetings:

Thursday, May 12th - Western Mass SNAP Coalition Meeting in Hatfield, 2 – 4 PM at the Western Mass Food Bank. Ellen Vollinger of the Food Research Action Center, www.frac.org will be attending this W. Mass meeting - a great opportunity for folks to get timely updates on the federal budget and upcoming USDA policy issues! The agenda will also include an update on the state budget; SNAP policy issues including what’s happening on SNAP re-certifications; the impact of the standard utility allowance (SUA); SNAP Employment and Training presentation, Healthy Initiative Pilot update, and more !! Contact Ruth Perry of the food bank for more information: ruthp@foodbankwma.org

Tuesday, May 24th - Food SNAP Improvement Coalition in Boston. 10 to Noon at St Francis House. To avoid the Memorial Day weekend, the May meeting is the 4th Tuesday in May. An agenda item will go out next week.

Thursday, June 2nd - Worcester Food Policy Coalition,1:30 PM at the United Way at 484 Main Street in Worcester. The agenda will include an update on federal budget, state budget, local outreach efforts and funding, and more! For more information, contact Liz Sheehan Castro at hungerfree@worcesterfoodpolicy.org