We hope you had a relaxing Labor Day weekend and are geared up for the battles ahead, including making sure Congress does not leave town without a robust package to fund extending Unemployment, SNAP boost and state and local aid. Please join us for Coalition tomorrow. Here’s some updates.
#BoostSNAPNow campaign continues:
Huge thanks to both Gina Plata Nino, Central West Justice Center and Jean McMurray, Worcester CO Food Bank for their speedy work to get LTEs into the Worcester Telegram over Labor Day weekend, calling on Congress to NOT leave DC until a COVID package with a SNAP boost is passed! Check out their LTEs here: Gina’s LTE and Jean’s LTE. And if you also submitted an LTE that got printed, please share it!
Next steps and updates from Ellen Vollinger of the Food Research Action Center (FRAC) tomorrow during SNAP Coalition!
SNAP Coalition AGENDA and Zoom call info for Tues 9/15/2020:
The SNAP Coalition meeting is from 10 to 11:30. We welcome input from all Coalition members. Please let us know if there are additional agenda items or announcements you would like to make. The meeting will start promptly with DTA at 10 AM.
The AGENDA includes:
- DTA’s updates: P-EBT status of “un-activated” cards and Q of September P-EBT; next SNAP emergency allotment; DTA operations update on interviews, Interim Reports and Recertifications; DTA data on SNAP applications/call volume (see below) and more.
- Federal Updates – with Ellen V/ FRAC and local advocacy you can do, virtual town halls (Central MA) and more!
- P-EBT outreach at a local level – with Gina Plata-Nino, CWJC and others
- Hunger Free Campus Coalition updates – with Coalition members
- SNAP Gap updates – with MLRI and CWJC
- Local issues/concerns – tell us what you are seeing!
Face-masks can be claimed as expense for SNAP medical expense deduction:
Thanks to the advocacy of the Mass Senior Action Council (MSAC) who popped the question last week, DTA Central has agreed that the costs of face-masks can be claimed for the SNAP medical expense deduction. Any SNAP recipient who is age 60+ or disabled (receiving a disability-based benefit) can claim out-of-pocket medical expenses to boost their SNAP benefits. This includes over-the-counter items as well as travel to an MD, health center, pharmacy etc. A prescription from an MD is not required to claim over the counter items as long as the item is recommended for use. Clearly older adults and persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of COVID and thus can claim the cost of the face masks. Thank you DTA for advising staff that face-mask costs are allowable!
DTA SNAP Application and Call Data:
Just flagging for Coalition members the following data that DTA reported to Advisory Boards last week (and sent in last week's eblast):
Between the last week of July and the first week of August, weekly SNAP applications increased from 6,429 to 13,465. At the same time, weekly TAFDC applications increased from 493 to 755 applications and EAEDC applications increased from 189 to 272 applications. With the increase in applications also came a high volume of calls into our assistance lines, with more than 66,000 calls coming in per week at one point.
P-EBT card data as of September 11th
As of Friday, 9/11/2020 DTA had issued 295,192 P-EBT cards (this is in addition to P-EBT issued to SNAP and TAFDC families, directly on their EBT cards). Of the 295K cards, 84% were pinned or activated (247,660 cards) and 82% of the cards are in use (241,241 cards). That means families are using the P-EBT cards to food shop.
Hats off again to Gina Plata-Nino for her excellent work in Worcester, see 9/5/2020 Worcester Telegram article on P-EBT and to advocates in Lynn and Dorchester as well. Keep the momentum up so that every family uses the P-EBT cards and/or donates the value of the food pantries who need help.
Please urge families to NOT discard the P-EBT cards once they use the benefits. Additional P-EBT benefits may be issued for September – stay tuned for more information.
Follow up Survey from Mass Food Systems – Your vote requested!
See email from Winton Pitcoff below. Thanks to those of you who participated in the discussion on local food systems priorities. There are over 300 individual recommendations included in the list – and Mass Food Systems would like to hear what your priorities are. Please take a moment to review and share your top priorities.
From: Winton Pitcoff <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Sep 11, 2020 at 10:49 AM
Subject: FW: Local food system priorities: Your input needed!
To: Pat Baker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This summer we invited you to participate in a discussion about how to best build and maintain an equitable, sustainable, resilient local food system. More than 400 people from all sectors of the food system participated in more than 35 conversations.
We have organized what we heard into a document that reflects the concerns raised and the ideas for resolutions that were offered. We are sharing that compilation today (attached, and available for download here (https://bit.ly/3hluqbR), as an opportunity for you to provide feedback, correct if we misheard, add to the conversation, and help prioritize those items that are most pressing to you and your communities.
We’ve created this form (https://forms.gle/
The comment period runs through the end of the day on Wednesday, September 23. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or further comments.
Thank you again for your participation in this process!
Winton Pitcoff, Director
MA Food System Collaborative