During many of our SNAP Coalition weekly calls, a number of the SNAP outreach partners have shared updated information on the changes they’ve made to continue to take SNAP applications during the pandemic. We know the SNAP caseload is rapidly increasing, but so is high unemployment. The Greater Boston Food Bank just released Feeding America data showing a 59% increase in food insecurity in the state.
In addition to Project Bread and the Food Bank of Western MA and Greater Boston– there are school districts, Councils on Aging, food pantries, homeless shelters, community action programs and health care centers continuing to handle SNAP applications. THANK YOU!
There are currently 87 SNAP outreach partners in Massachusetts, and with the support of the DTA SNAP Outreach Team, the majority are up and running even if their offices are physically closed to the public. Some have limited hours, others have expanded hours (evenings and weekends). DTA’s SNAP Outreach Team is frequently updating information on how the outreach organizations are operating (thank you DTA!). See DTA’s updated Outreach Partner Excel File HERE. and attached is a PDF with their service areas and target populations.
ALL of the outreach partners who are currently open/active on the Excel list can take SNAP applications over the phone. No one needs to apply in person. Further, households capable of filing their own SNAP applications can do so without an Outreach Partner as discussed below.
Multiple Routes to Help a Household Apply for SNAP in Massachusetts:
· Low income households can directly apply for SNAP online or via smartphone through www.DTAConnect.com . Applying through DTAConnect.com does NOT require the help of an Outreach partner. DTAConnect.com applications are in 5 languages. Households do not need to create an account to do a DTAConnect.com application. DTAConnect.com also has applications for cash assistance.
· Low income households can fill out a paper SNAP application any time. Paper applications can be mailed or faxed it to DTA directly. The SNAP application is in13 languages. Mailing a SNAP application takes postage and time (and for many, travel to a post office box or office), which is why we strongly recommend DTAConnect.com or faxing the application to DTA.
· Contact one of the many local SNAP outreach partner (see excel file) to check how busy they are, their language capacities for non-English speaking households, their service areas. The majority on the DTA updated list are actively serving low income households in multiple ways.
· Agencies that are not SNAP Outreach Partners can still help families apply. If you are assisting an individual or family, you can walk them through the SNAP application process over the phone at the same time the family is filling out the online application on DTAConnect.com. Watch DTA video HERE to become familiar with the questions asked on the SNAP application (note that the current SNAP application is slightly different than the version in this video in terms of required questions). You can also go through a “mock” SNAP application by going through screen by screen while on the phone with a family – just do NOT submit the application if you are not actually applying! NOTE: If you not are not a SNAP outreach partner, we advise you not submit SNAP applications on behalf of a household unless they have given you express written authorization to do so as their authorized representative.
Checking on the status of a SNAP application: If you are working with a household and they need you to contact DTA to learn about the status of the SNAP application or fix a problem, the household can send DTA a handwritten note to DTA that gives your organization permission to discuss their case (with the DTA Assistance Line or the DTA Ombuds Office to learn about the status of the case.
Supporting SNAP Outreach Work: Project Bread, MLRI, Mass Public Health Association, CommonWealth Kitchen, Mass Food Systems Collaborative and the four MA Food Banks have joined forces to advocate for more state dollars to support SNAP Outreach Partners – your work is essential for our most vulnerable communities- especially during the pandemic and resulting economic downturn. See attached letter to House and Senate leadership sent yesterday.