The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Rolling Rally reminder; Updated food insecurity data; Un-activated P-EBT cards; Pandemic Unemployment Update

We are writing with a variety of updates and key information and remind you about Tuesday's SNAP Coalition Zoom meeting. We also want to remind you that this Monday, July 20th is the National "Rolling Rally" to urge the Senate to #BoostSNAPNow in the next COVID-19 package. Check out the Rolling Rally information HERE: https://frac.org/covid-19-actions  See FRAC graphic below. We also need local elected officials to make selfies and/or post statements with the hashtag #BoostSNAPNow! Please encourage your local officials to join on social media on Monday!

Updated food insecurity data for MA & data visualization 

The Northwestern Institute for Policy Research has released a data visualization on weekly food insecurity rates during COVID-19 (based on data from the Census Household Pulse survey). In MA, average weekly food insecurity during COVID-19 for respondents has been 16.4% for all respondents- 23.4% for Black , 26.6% for Latino/Hispanic, and 14.1% for white respondents. This is staggering, and reinforces the need to #BoostSNAPnow in the next COVID package. 

SNAP Coalition Zoom on Tuesday 7/21 from 10-11:30
 
Here's our Draft Agenda:
  • Federal updates - nationwide push on COVID package
  • Possible USDA release of harmful SNAP regulations (and ways to fight back)  
  • State legislative updates on HIP, SNAP Gap, Breakfast after Bell, School meal debt/Community Eligibility
  • DTA updates - P-EBT, supplemental emergency SNAP for July (USDA approved DTA's request for July), unemployment benefits and SNAP, etc. 
  • Discussion around P-EBT and ramping up outreach to families who have not PIN-ed or did not receive their P-EBT cards.  
  • Food pantry verifications (why requiring photo IDs harms households who may not have access to other benefits)   
  • Checking in on local issues. 
Zoom info:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/209236814?pwd=WVRjdGc3YUZkVElPTjlCWmdhd2NjUT09

Meeting ID: 209 236 814
Password: 658102
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,209236814# 
 
Outreach to families with un-activated P-EBT cards
 
While 80% of the 280K P-EBT cards issued to families have been activated ("Pinned"), 20% have not yet activated their cards. Here's a link to the excel spreadsheet we sent out on Monday showing the number of P-EBT cards by cities and towns that were issued, activated and not activated as of July 13th
 
There is a lot of great P-EBT information on the MAp-EBT.org website. DTA has also made it easier for families to get the child's "Case Number"  at DTAConnect.com, and has excellent FAQs on how to use the P-EBT cards - including reassuring families that use of P-EBT does not create public charge problems. However, some families are still reluctant to use their child's P-EBT card. Toward that end, we have borrowed a flier from our friends at South Carolina Appleseed: If You Do Not Need Your P-EBT Card, Your Neighbors Do. This flier may give you additional ways to talk to families about why using the P-EBT card is important. 
 
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for gig workers, students, and more workers

PUA is an unemployment benefit program created by theCARES Act. It ensures that workers who don't typically qualify for UI  can have access to unemployment benefits, including gig workers, workers without sufficient work history for regular UI and others can access unemployment during COVID-19. We wanted to flag a couple of groups in particular for the Coalition:
  • Full time high school and college students who worked part time but lost work due to COVID-19 (we do not believe this includes work study jobs). See this NYT article for more info. 
  • Workers who did not earn enough to qualify for regular UI but who lost work due to COVID-19
  • Workers who are the main care-giver for a child and had to stop working to care for the child because school/day care closed 
  • Workers who had to stop working to care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19. 
For more information about who might be eligible, see the MassLegalHelp page here. Please let your clients know they may be eligible for PUA! We think that many gig workers, students, and other vulnerable groups who lost work are eligible for but not getting PUA. Those found eligible can also get retroactive benefits (including retroactive FPUC - the $600/week boost in unemployment).   

Visit Mass.gov/PUA to learn more and for the PUA application. Contact local legal services if a claimant is denied but appears to be eligible. 

Unemployment Benefits and SNAP - What is to come?

Currently, all workers getting unemployment benefits (with the exception of a small handful of folks in a certain type of Section 30 training program) are getting a $600/week boost in benefits. This boost is called FPUC (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation). FPUC counts as income for SNAP. Since April, tens of thousands of Massachusetts households have been terminated from or denied SNAP because of FPUC. 

Currently, the last date that FPUC will be paid out is 7/25. An extension of expanded unemployment benefits is one of the core issues facing Congress. We are all hoping the FPUC continues, but also need to plan to reconnect families to core benefits if it ends.

If FPUC is not extended, many households will be eligible for SNAP again starting in August and should re-apply. We are very worried about a spike in food insecurity if FPUC is not extended - see this powerful WBUR piece featuring the Greater Boston Food Bank, Worcester County Food Bank, and Food Bank of Western MA. 

It is possible Congress will extend it in part or in full (if this is the case, we do not yet know the impact on SNAP). We will discuss this issue in more detail on next Tuesday's SNAP Coalition call and brainstorm on strategies to reconnect families with benefits.
 
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