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SNAP Coalition meeting tomorrow; Commish Kershaw heating to EEC; School Meals for All Action Alert!

We have a lot of updates for you all! For those who attended the excellent FRAC/Feeding America National Anti-Hunger Conference last week. It was chock full of amazing presentations,  we learned a lot and, and we hope you did, too!  The majority of sessions were recorded and can be viewed til coming November, if you missed any!

 

Today’s eblast includes:

  1. SNAP Coalition TOMORROW! 

  2. School Meals for All Action Alert

  3. EBT system will be down (90 mins) on 3/23

  4. DTA Commish Kershaw reading to Early Ed and Care (EEC)

  5. DTA policy updates 

  6. Outreach on Child Tax Credit and EITC

  7. Immigrants and benefits training on 4/7

 
  1. SNAP Coalition meeting tomorrow, Tues March 2nd- 10-11:30 AM. 

 

Here is the Zoom link

 

Here’s the AGENDA:

  • Federal updates from FRAC - expiration of USDA child nutrition and other waives, legislative updates

  • State legislative/budget updates including School Meals for All, HIP, Hunger Free Campus and the Common Apps campaigns. 

  • DTA updates on PEBT, SNAP and Commissioner changes. 

  • Other announcements:

    • Reminder on CTC/EITC and FindYourFunds.org

    • Other events/updates 

 
  1. School Meals for All ACTION Alert 

We need your help to respond to Project Bread’s urgent action alert on school meals. As the Feed Kids Campaign works to raise the alarm about the expiration of USDA waivers, Project Bread is doubling down on efforts to ensure that the MA legislature extends universal school meals through any mechanism at their disposal. Sew WGBH news story from last week, “Mass students teetering on edge of school meal cliff”. 

 

To put the pressure on the legislature, Project Bread is urging folks to call your elected officials to urge them to enact universal school meals here: https://actnow.io/o8XmSyr. Their advocacy software makes it easy to call and leave a voicemail, and even provides you with a script! Every email and call really does count. 

  1. EBT purchases won’t work from 10:30 to 11:59 PM tomorrow night, 3/2 

Due to some EBT IT systems updates that are needed, SNAP and DTA cash benefit households will not be able to make EBT purchases for 90 minutes (from 10:30 PM to midnight) on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. During this time, DTA clients will not be able to use their EBT cards at ATMs, in stores, nor for online SNAP purchases. DTA is also posting this on all DTAConnect accounts.

 
  1. DTA Commissioner Kershaw heating to the Department of Early Ed and Care this week. 

Commissioner Amy Kershaw joined DTA in January of 2020 and has led DTA through the past 2+ years of unprecedented challenges due to COVID. She will take over command of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC). Her last day at DTA will be this Friday, 3/25. 

 

The Commissioner has co-lead the Governor’s COVID-19 Food Security Task Force and overseen one of the highest increases in SNAP participation (38%) in the nation since COVID. We have deep  respect and admiration for Commissioner Kershaw’s impressive work and look forward to seeing her leadership guide positive changes at EEC. As of Monday, 3/28, DTA’s Acting Commissioner will be Mary Sheehan, who most recently served as the agency’s Chief Operating Officer.

 

Tune in to Coalition tomorrow for an opportunity to share thanks and appreciation to DTA from the SNAP Coalition! 

  1. DTA policy updates

Here’s a few DTA updates on special payments and restarting SNAP interviews, and more updates tomorrow! :

 
  • DTA has shared that the upcoming $500 “essential employee” payments for certain low-wage workers are not countable for SNAP or DTA cash benefits (EAEDC/TAFDC). To learn more about these payments, see this Mass.gov page. For DTA guidance, click here. 

  • DTA updated the COVID policies for SNAP application interviews. Now, if an applicant is missing information DTA needs to make a decision about eligibility (mandatory proofs), DTA will require an interview (a conversation with a worker). If all mandatory proofs are submitted with the application, the interview is still waived. To have an interview, clients can call the DTA Assistance Line at 877-382-2363, or go in person to a DTA office to call a worker from the office. 

 
  1. Outreach on Child Tax Credit and EITC 

DTA recently sent texts and mailed notices to the entire SNAP caseload about CTC and EITC. These federal tax dollars are a critical resource for many low income families. CTC and EITC were both expanded for this year! Some groups who can get federal money now who couldn’t in the past:

 
  • EITC for older adults 65+ who worked in 2021

  • EITC for certain adults 19-24 including low-income college students who worked in 2021 - including homeless students, former foster youth, and certain part time students. 

  • For the Child Tax Credit, families do not need to have any income or have worked to get the credit! CTC is up to $3,600 per child! 

 

Thank you to DTA for being a national model on CTC and EITC outreach. Check out FindYourFunds.org to learn more and get simple fliers in 11 languages for your clients! 

  1. April 7 - Basic Benefits training on Immigrants and Public Benefits  

Please join us on Thursday, April 7th for the annual Immigrants and Public Benefits Training,  from 9:30-3PM: This training offers the nuts-and-bolts on how immigration status affects eligibility for state and federal public benefits including:

  • how immigrants obtain legal status, 

  • how to read immigration documents in order to understand their legal status, 

  • health care programs available to immigrants and their dependents, 

  • Cash, nutrition, housing, emergency shelter and other COVID related benefits.

Register here!  (Click on the non-attorney community org option to get the discounted rate).