A number of updates below. We know this email is long, but it is all important! Please let us know if you have any issues or questions - otherwise we look forward to “seeing” you on Tuesday!
SNAP Coalition meeting on Tuesday, 1/25!
Our next Coalition meeting will be Tuesday, January 25 from 10 to 11:30 AM. Click here for the Zoom link.
Note this is not the same Zoom link as 2021 meetings (we had to change accounts, sorry for any confusion!). We aren’t sure this will work, but here is a calendar invite for our 4th Tuesday of the month meetings in case that is helpful for you!
The tentative AGENDA includes:
Federal update: Extension of public health emergency declaration, USDA/USCIS public charge joint letter, Build Back Better Act status and important SNAP bills
DTA updates including: local offices, ongoing SNAP emergency allotments, other updates. DTA will be joining us.
State Legislative Updates - SNAP Gap, Hunger Free Campus, Universal School Meals and gearing up for FY23 Budget Campaign
FPL increase and updated SNAP calculators
Biden Administration extends public health emergency declaration for 90 days
The national Public Health Emergency has been extended through mid-April at least. As our colleagues at CBPP noted, while it’s actually not good news that the nation continues to struggle with the pandemic, this does mean states with state declarations also in place (like Massachusetts) may provide SNAP Emergency Allotments (boosted benefits) through at least April. For overview of the EAs, see MLRI flier for community organizations here. In Massachusetts, households receive this extra SNAP payment on the 2nd business day of the following month. A number of other federal COVID SNAP changes are tied to the federal public health declaration. Tune in to Coalition Tuesday to learn more!
REMEMBER: Now is a critical time to screen households to ensure all are getting the maximum income deductions they are eligible for, including medical expenses (for households with a member age 60+ or disabled), child and adult day care costs, and all shelter costs. Child and adult care, shelter costs, and mileage costs for transportation to/from medical appointments can all be self-declared (verbally or in writing). Come to our training next week to learn more! (info below)
Check for local office closings on Mass.gov
Local DTA offices may be closed due to the variant. Today, 1/19, Worcester is closed. We recommend checking to see if an office is open before recommending a client go in person. DTA has put a banner up on Mass.gov/DTA with a link to local office information - go here to check on a particular office! Clients seeking an EBT card can get one at any open DTA office, or request a card by mail.
Federal Poverty Level increase = increase to SNAP Gross Income Test
The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced the new federal poverty level (FPL) increases, effective January 12th. The FPL increase also increases the 200% FPL gross income test for SNAP. The rest of the SNAP math (eg. the shelter cap, the Standard Utility Allowance, etc) is adjusted in October. MLRI has updated our excel calculator and one page SNAP math worksheet with the increased 200% FPL numbers. Click here to download the updated calculators.
MLRI SNAP 101 Training coming up - Thurs January 27th
Don’t forget to register for next week’s SNAP 101 Advocacy training, Thursday the 27th from 9:20 to 12:30 AM, hosted by MCLE. This is the most in depth training we do all year! Click here to learn more and register with MCLE (select advocate/legal services attorney for the reduced rate!).
Project Bread SNAP Awareness week - social media graphics
This week is Project Bread’s SNAP Awareness week! We encourage you to spread the word about SNAP! Click here for a social media toolkit from Project Bread.
Updated contacts for DTA accommodations - Client Assistance Coordinators
Each DTA office has a Client Assistance Coordinator (CAC) who can help with the accommodation process and other disability related needs.For an up to date list of contact information for the CACs, click here. Clients can also reach a CAC through following the prompts on the Assistance Line for a Client Assistance Coordinator.
DTA reinstates Learnfare for TAFDC
DTA re-started a TAFDC policy, Learnfare, at the end of December. TAFDC is a DTA cash assistance program for very low or no income families with children or pregnant people. Learnfare is a rule where TAFDC families must meet DTA’s school attendance requirements. If a child has too many unexcused absences, the TAFDC household loses that child’s portion of the grant (is sanctioned). Learnfare creates barriers and red tape, and can cause further economic distress for extremely low income families. It is also one of the many racist policies in TAFDC. This re-start is of particular concern based on the chaos schools have been facing since the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you work with any families on TAFDC who were sent notices from DTA about Learnfare.
Free rapid tests mailed by USPS - share widely!
Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order free 4 at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Click here to order the free tests.