The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

SNAP Coalition Zoom AGENDA Tuesday 5/5; Updates on P-EBT, Online EBT purchasing and MORE

TO:  SNAP Coalition Members
FR:  Pat Baker and Vicky Negus

As we start Week 8 of the MA pandemic-triggered shutdown (yes, week 8), we hope these resources help you to keep serving your constituencies during these difficult times.  A deep bow to all the front line anti-hunger and advocacy staff at food pantries, SNAP outreach locations, legal services advocates and DTA workers, as well as the heroic staff at schools, health care facilities and the many emergency response teams.

Our SNAP Coalition Zoom Meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 5th, will start with a zoom visit from Congressman Jim McCovern.  The Congressman will give the Coalition a brief update of what’s happening in DC and what we need to do in MA to ensure more funding for federal nutrition programs are included in the next COVID-19 pandemic package (C-4).  Please tune 10 AM sharp!  

SNAP Coalition Zoom Meeting AGENDA – May 5th 10 – 11:30 AM 

·         National update on next COVID-19 federal package with Congressman Jim McGovern and FRAC

·         DTA updates including status of P-EBT roll out, April SNAP emergency supplement, how DTA local offices are working remotely, etc

·         Newly poor households and P-EBT- reminder to check with local school districts re ongoing NSLP applications to qualify families for P-EBT (e.g. families not wanting to apply for SNAP)

·         SNAP and Unemployment Comp – strategies to help SNAP households getting the pandemic unemployment comp (PUC) and reconnect them to SNAP in August

·         Harper reminder -  GBLS review of DTA obligations to help households with disabilities

·         Cash assistance for SNAP households – are you seeing cashless applicants who cannot qualify for UI?  How to connect them with TAFDC, EAEDC and Chpt 115 Vets Services cash benefits.

·         Local issues – what are you seeing on the ground?

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) reminders:   

We’ve received a slew of emails about P-EBT.  The first round of P-EBT was issued last week to current SNAP and DTA cash households. and DTA will share additional updates tomorrow. 

Families do not need to “apply” for P-EBT, but they do need to be approved for SNAP, approved for free/reduced-price free meals, or be in a CEP school district.  It’s important to check with local school districts (non-CEP) to be sure they are still taking NSLP applications, even if schools are providing “grab and go” food.  Equally important to encourage families to continue to accept the “grab and go” food - even if they received the P-EBT benefits.  All these federal nutrition resources are there for them, and P-EBT benefits do not need to be used right away (the P-EBT benefits are good for 365 days)!

Please check these online resources frequently:

·         MA P-EBT website hosted by Project Bread, Shah Foundation, DTA and DESE with excellent client fliers (in multiple languages) and additional resources for schools, retailers, public officials

·         DTA’s P-EBT webpage with FAQs updated regularly

·         MLRI’s P-EBT Google Doc with the sample DTA notices, policy updates and list of current CEP districts

Online EBT purchasing update:

DTA filed its State Plan request to USDA on 4/24/2020 to allow MA to participate in the EBT Online Purchasing pilot. However, this roll out will still take time, and will be limited to the grocers approved by USDA for the online purchasing (WalMart, Amazon and Price-Rite). Other large grocers have to go thru a complex vetting process.  Also, SNAP does not pay for non-food items, including delivery fees.  Online EBT is not a magic bullet, we need to continue to push for multiple EBT purchasing options. 

·         See NYT 5/1/20 article re challenges faced by MA and sister states.  

·         See NPR 4/30/2020 news story re same. 

DPH/Legal Services COVID-19 Benefits Trainings May 5, 11 and 14 

The Department of Public Health's (DPH) Rural Domestic and Sexual Violence Program is hosting a series of trainings that address the economic needs of families affected by domestic and sexual violence in the context of COVID19. DPH has graciously opened up these trainings to additional community organizations and advocates - Please join us to learn about the most up to date information on accessing benefits and information on new COVID19 specific policies. See below for information about each training and a link to register:

Training 1: Basics of eligibility & applying for COVID-19 related state and federal unemployment insurance benefits with an emphasis on domestic violence survivors.

Date/Time:  Tuesday, May 5, 2020  3:00-4:00PM

Web link:   https://statema.webex.com/statema/onstage/g.php?MTID=e6260991d25873dece03b5f7316be4f8b 

Presenter: Monica Halas, Employment Law Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services

 

Training 2: Basics of Public Benefits and COVID-19 Specific Policies

Date/Time: Monday, May 11, 2020; 1:00 PM - 2:15PM

Registration Link: http://www.cvent.com/d/znqtj9     

Presenters: Vicky Negus, SNAP Policy Advocate, Jamie Sabino, Staff Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute 

 

Training 3: Benefits and Implications for People Experiencing Sexual and Domestic Violence

Date/Time: Thursday, May 14, 2020; 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM 

Registration Link: http://www.cvent.com/d/knqtjd

Presenter: Jamie Sabino, Staff Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

 


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