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School Meals, SNAP and College Students, Upcoming Webinars

We’ve got a LOT to share with you on K-12 school meals, SNAP for college students and some upcoming events on Disaster SNAP and ACP! The next SNAP Coalition meeting is Tuesday, March 22nd (10 to 11:30 AM).

 

SCHOOL MEALS 

 

Ask Congress to Extend USDA waiver authority for school meals

Please contact your Massachusetts HOUSE member to urge them to co-sponsor Rep Spanberger's legislation to EXTEND USDA waiver authority to keep feeding children in the face of numerous challenges such as school closures, virtual learning, and the need to social distance. These waivers remain critical due to the ongoing supply chain disruptions and staffing shortages and are needed to support access to meals as early as this summer. Here’s Project Bread’s Action Alert that you can use to contact your MOC directly. And our anti-hunger champion Congressman Jim McGovern is (of course) already signed on!

 

Build Back Better Act and Child Nutrition

Thanks to our fantastic colleagues at the Food Research and Action Center, we are sharing a powerful Massachusetts specific fact sheet on how the Build Back Better Act would impact child nutrition programs in the state. We urge you to use this information in speaking with the MA Delegation on the importance of both extending USDA’s waiver authority and on pushing for passage of the Build Back Better Act/child nutrition provisions.  For more information on how BBBA impacts states, check it out HERE.

 

MA School Districts Receive Guidance on Meal Debt Policies and CEP!

 

On 2/28, the Department of Early and Secondary Education (DESE) issued guidance to all school districts on the implementation of Chapter 62 of the Acts of 2021 - legislation that requires more school districts and individual schools to implement the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) as well as stop “meal shaming” practices. With drafting help of MLRI and Project Bread, DESE issued two memos (both available HERE) including:

 
  • Guidance on unpaid meal debt and prohibited practices, including prohibiting schools from limiting students to the feared "cheese sandwich" or tossing hot meals; not barring students from non-fee extra curricular activities, graduation exercises, grade reports; not adding any fees to unpaid debt (e.g. not using debt collection agencies that typically add fees. This is important guidance to review with your local school districts.

  • Guidance on districts both increasing direct certification checks and participating in CEP. Both school districts and individual schools that have an “identified student percentage” (ISP) of 50% or more now need to apply for CEP unless they can make the financial case to opt out. Check out DESE's guidance on CEP.

 

MLRI will be closely monitoring implementation of the new law in school districts that are not otherwise CEP.  If you become aware of any school districts that still have meal charge policies that violate the new law, please let our AmeriCorps member Lily Stewart at MLRI know. Lstewart@mlri.org

 

COLLEGE STUDENTS

 

SNAP and Students Excess Verification alert:  

We’ve heard from a number of college SPOCs (basic needs staff) about students being asked to provide DTA forms to get SNAP.  DTA Central has confirmed that college students do NOT need to provide DTA forms to qualify for SNAP benefits. All DTA staff have been instructed to NOT request these forms from students. This includes the Community College Enrollment (CCE-1) and or Educational Income (EDUC-1) form. If you see any students with these forms, please contact the DTA Ombuds Office immediately and let MLRI know, Lily Stewart, lstewart@mlri.org

 

Senator Warren leads charge, urges USDA to issue better SNAP guidance for college students:  

During 2021, MLRI and uAspire have been working with sister state anti-hunger and national groups groups to urge USDA to issue guidance to address some inconsistencies in SNAP policies that impact low-income students - including students in community colleges and 4-year public colleges, students with disabilities, students approved for work study but cannot find a work study job.

 

Yesterday, Senator Warren's office sent the letter to USDA and issued a press release (link includes a link to the MOC letter), which was also signed by MA Reps McGovern, Keating, Moulton and Auchincloss. HUGE thanks to Senator Warren for her advocacy for all students in the nation!

 

DISASTER SNAP WEBINAR - March 8th

 

FRAC Webinar: How SNAP Matters During Times of Disaster 

This important webinar is Tuesday, March 8, 3:00 PM EST Register HERE. There’s some stuff you really should know before you NEED to know it. Like changing a flat tire in the middle of nowhere (and without cell service). This is one of them!  

 

Join FRAC and the California Association of Food Banks for an overview of SNAP's critical role in responding quickly and effectively to support people recovering from disasters. The webinar will outline disaster-related policy provisions in SNAP, share best practices, and highlight resources to help you reduce food insecurity before, during, and after a disaster happens.

 

ACP WEBINAR - March 17th!

 

MLRI is hosting an informational session "The ABCs of the ACP" on the Affordable Connectivity Program on Thursday, March 17th at 10:00 - 11:00am via Zoom.   Register here.

The ACP is up to $30 a month for the internet and $100 for a one time computer/laptop/tablet purchase. Click the following links for flyers about ACP in English, Spanish, Cabo Verde, Haitian Kreole, Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese.