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Powerful testimony at Hunger Free Campus Hearing Yesterday; and DHE letter to 84K Low-Income MA College Students about SNAP!

Addressing college campus hunger is on the move!  We have a couple of important updates for you from the State House and from the MA Dept of Higher Education.

State House Hearing on Hunger Free Campus Legislation:

A  HUGE thanks to everyone who  presented before the Joint Committee on Higher Education hearing today in support of An Act establishing the Massachusetts hunger-free campus initiative (H. 1368, S.822)  Very powerful testimony, which you can check in this link HERE.  The Committee is still accepting written testimony on both bills, which you would send it to Committee Staff Rosalind Jordan rosalind.jordan@mahouse.gov  and Derek Silver derek.silver@masenate.gov  Let me know if you need help drafting testimony. 

Please consider joining the Massachusetts Hunger Free Campus Coalition to get more updates and take action. 

We are also thrilled to report U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren also submitted very powerful testimony yesterday in support of the state legislation, see attached. Senator Warren has also filed federal legislation along with Senators Sanders, Padilla, Hayes, Lawson, Torres and others that (among other provisions), would make permanent the temporary SNAP exemptions for students during COVID (included in the Consolidated Approps Act). More info on this federal bill HERE. Stay tuned on efforts needed to support this as well as the EATS Act! 

MA Dept of Higher Education notifies 84K MA students of potential SNAP eligibility 

When it rains, it pours!  We are also excited to also share a copy of the letter that DHE Commissioner Carlos Santiago sent to 84K Massachusetts students earlier this week. This is similar to the letter DHE sent in February 2021. See sample e-letter or attached PDF of same. What you need to know:

  • The e-letters were sent to every MA student who gets a MassGrant, Pell, is eligible for work study (even if no job), or has an EFC of $0. 
  • DHE personalized the letter by including the student's full name at the top. Below is a test/sample letter.(Some of the students may already be getting SNAP, but DHE would not have that data to cross check). 
  • When students apply for SNAP, they can provide DTA with a copy of this letter, or any other proof of their financial aid status.  

We are grateful to DHE Commissioner Santiago and his team for drafting and shipping out this SNAP student letter for the fall semester, and to DTA Commissioner Kershaw and her team for handling what we expect is a surge in SNAP applications this fall.  

Please let MLRI know if you see students who run into problems accessing SNAP.  MLRI has a new AmeriCorps member, Lilydahn Stewart, who can help students get the benefits they are eligible to receive. Her email is lstewart@mlri.org 

 

NOTE: Upcoming special Coalition meeting, Tuesday October 12th with presentations on child care and EBT Card to culture!  Stay tuned for details.