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Training updates, SNAP Emergency Allotments, P-EBT & CEP Updates and Call to Action

This is just a brief reminder of our upcoming SNAP Coalition meeting on Tuesday, April 13th from 10 to 11:30 AM.  We will have a robust agenda with updates on the SNAP emergency allotments, P-EBT and federal and state legislative updates.   See Zoom link below. 

Please also see FRAC’s alert below on urging members of Congress to support in the next COVID-19 Relief Package a) Healthy School Meals for All, b) long term investments in SNAP and c) permanent  Child Tax Credit improvements. 

Important Training Updates:

·         The April 8th MLRI/MCLE Immigrant/Benefits Training postponed to May 6th.  Our colleagues at the Mass Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) have been struggling with major server/IT issues. As a result, they’ve had to postpone a number of trainings. The Immigrant/Benefits training scheduled for tomorrow is rescheduled for May 6th.  If you previously registered, you will be registered for that training.  If you tried to register, hang tight! We will keep folks posted on when and how to register for the May 6th training. 

·         Tenants’ Rights in Massachusetts during COVID - Training on April 14th:  Attached is a flier describing the upcoming MCLE/MLRI Tenants’ Rights training (9:30 - 3:30) and how to register with MCLE.  Be sure to tell them if you are a Legal Services or non-lower advocate at a community org, to get the discounted rate.   

SNAP Emergency Allotments for lowest income SNAP households.

As we shared last week, USDA announced on April 1st that the lowest income SNAP households will receive up to $95/month in extra SNAP benefits because they did not get any extra allotments since last March. For example, a single individual currently receiving “regular SNAP” of $234/mo will get another $95 in an emergency allotment – for a total of $329/mo SNAP!  

Here’s the FNS Policy Memo issued April 1st. USDA projects that MA SNAP households will receive a total of $23.6M in SNAP each month for the next 6 months, and very possibly longer!  DTA has not yet issued guidance - but we hope to hear more at Tuesday’s meeting on when these new emergency allotments will be received.  

USDA extends time line for school districts to apply for universal free school meals (CEP).

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows individual schools and school districts with high numbers of low income children to provide universal free school meals to all students.  The CEP is based on the “identified student percentage” (ISP), which is the number of students directly certified for free meal status because of SNAP, TANF or Medicaid, as well as foster care children, Head Start, homeless and migrant children.  With the nearly 25% increase in SNAP participation in the state over the past 12 months, even more Massachusetts school districts or individual schools may be CEP eligible.

Here’s what you should know:

·         USDA recently issued a nationwide waiver giving school districts more time to apply for CEP for school year 21/22 – extending the deadline from June 30th to September 30th. See USDA’s March 26th CEP waiver guidance HERE.  

·         Want to learn more about CEP and how you can help your school districts get to yes?   Register for FRAC’s CEP Webinar tomorrow, April 8th at 3 PM EST.  

·         And if your organization works in school districts that might be CEP eligible, the Project Bread Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) is also available to help you learn ways to talk with your local school officials. Please reach out to CNOP at:  https://meals4kids.org/about

P-EBT mini-update

We periodically hear from families that received P-EBT cards that they do not need/want the P-EBT benefits. This may be the case school districts with universal free school meals through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), like Boston.  Unfortunately, P-EBT cards cannot be transferred to other families, but families can use the P-EBT benefits to purchase food and donate it to local organizations.  See attached flier.  And at some point, P-EBT benefits will get expunged (removed) from the card.  We will keep you posted on that time frame. 

Note: If you have clients who never got a P-EBT card, lost or tossed the card, or have struggled with how to use it, please check out the MAp-EBT.org website here as to how to PIN the card or get a new card issued.  We are especially worried about homeless students who never got their cards.