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SNAP gap tool, Biden exec order, Haitian families, the shelter cap + more!

We hope you are gearing up for some relaxing and safe time with family and friends. We have a couple of items to share with you before the holiday break the next two weeks. If you are working with Haitian immigrant families, see important information below. Our next SNAP Coalition meeting is scheduled for 1/25 from 10-11:30. 

1. SNAP Gap and the Social Vulnerability Index Data Mapping Tool

Hot of the press! MLRI, the National Association of Social Workers - Massachusetts Chapter, and Health Leads just released a new data brief entitled “SNAP Gap and Social Vulnerability Index: Who’s Losing Out on Federal Nutrition Benefits and How Do We Close the SNAP Gap?” The brief showcases a new data mapping tool developed by Health Leads that compares the social and economic vulnerability of several Massachusetts communities to the existing “SNAP Gap.”

 

The report also illustrates how a common application for safety-net programs, particularly for MassHealth and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), could better serve the state’s residents. Ultimately, the brief points to the urgent need to pass An Act to Streamline Access to Critical Public Health and Safety-net Programs through Common Applications (S.761/H.1290), filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and Representative Jay Livingstone (D-Boston).  Stay tuned for SNAP Gap/Common App Updates in 2022! If you want to join the SNAP Gap Coalition, email Pat or Vicky.

2. Biden Administration Executive Order “Putting the Public First” and calling for NO WRONG DOOR!

This is a big deal! On Monday, President Biden signed Executive Order 14058, Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery To Rebuild Trust in Government. The White House also released a Fact Sheet describing the Exec Order: Putting the Public First: Improving Customer Experience and Service Delivery for the American People

With respect to access to public benefits, the White House Fact Sheet states: “Those navigating across multiple programs can expect a “no-wrong door” approach – interacting with one Federal program can help get them connected with other benefits and streamline enrollment for which they are eligible.” YES!  Let’s work together to make that provision a reality in 2022!

3. The SNAP Shelter Cap – Household stories needed to LIFT THE CAP!

At the recent SNAP Coalition meeting, Ellen Vollinger of FRAC highlighted the critical importance of generating real stories that underscores how harmful the SNAP shelter cap is for working families. As we anticipate the end of Emergency Allotments in 2022, it is critical that all SNAP households have accurate rent/utility, child care, and (for older adults/persons with disabilities) medical costs on their SNAP case. But for many working households, the SNAP benefit amount is made lower than real costs based on the low “shelter cap.”

Click here for MLRI’s 2 pager that describes the SNAP shelter cap, with three MA stories that demonstrate how the regular SNAP benefits would be higher if the full shelter costs were taken into account in the SNAP math. We need more stories so that we can build the case in 2022 for federal legislation to change this harsh rule! Please email Pat or Vicky if you work with any families you think might be impacted by the shelter cap.

4. Haitian immigrants – flag if SNAP delayed/denied

The eligibility rules for Haitian immigrants are complicated. Many Haitians who have come to the US are eligible for SNAP. Haitians are eligible if meet the other eligiblity rules for SNAP and if they:

  • were paroled into the U.S.
  • are the subject of removal/deportation proceedings
  • have an application for asylum pending
  • and other categories!

We know this can be confusing. Some families have paperwork and some families may not – and immigration documents are complex! Here is some more in depth information from MLRI (focused on health care, but with general information that applies to SNAP, too).  Our bottom line message if you work with any Haitian families:

  • apply for SNAP if the family is low-income!
  • If the application is denied or delayed, contact the DTA Ombuds sara.craven@state.ma.us or 617-348-5354. DTA has told case managers to contact their policy team before denying any applications from Haitian families.
  • refer families denied SNAP to local legal services, and let MLRI know what you are seeing

5. DTA posts great 1 page outreach fliers in 13 languages

Click here to download DTA’s 1 page fliers. We think these are a great resource – they clearly communicate basic information about SNAP, including:  “If you are not a US citizen or eligible immigrant, it is safe for you to get SNAP for an eligible family member (like your US citizen child)” Thank you to DTA for taking feedback on this flier and for creating such a clear resource.

6. FRAC/MLRI Blog Posting on MA School “Meal Shaming” Campaign

Hot off the press – FRAC has posted our blog about the campaign to end “school meal shaming” practices in Massachusetts, which had its roots in a 13-year-old student who believed he could not attend school due to (erroneously) accumulated meal debt. We are thrilled Governor Baker signed the bill in October and will be carefully monitoring DESE and school district implementation in 2022. The FRAC blog shares the history of this bill and the many steps along the way.

The ULTIMATE SOLUTION is free school meals for ALL Massachusetts students.  Please join Project Bread’s #FeedKids Campaign and submit testimony in support of the Universal School Meals bill, H.714/S.314 filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Rep Andy Vargas. A public (zoom) hearing on the bill is on January 4, 2021.