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Updates on Public Charge, Un-activated P-EBT cards and Schools Eligible for Universal Free Meals (CEP) - With Attachments!

We are writing to give you some critical updates on public charge, current data on the number of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) cards that remain unpinned, and the school districts that might be able to elect universal free school meal status (Community Eligibility Provision or CEP).


Public Charge Update from the Massachusetts Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) campaign: 

You may have heard about ongoing litigation challenging the new public charge rule that has been in effect since February 24th, 2020. Two preliminary injunctions had blocked the rule nationwide during the Public Health Emergency Declaration two weeks ago. However, after a court decision issued Wednesday night, both efforts have now been restricted to New York, Vermont and Connecticut. This unfortunately means that the new public charge rule is currently in effect in Massachusetts.

Given the ever changing nature of the legal process, where things seem to the change from one week to another, it is more important than ever to remind the community that:

1. Most immigrants are not subject to public charge. 

For the most part, only immigrants applying for a green card are subject to public charge test. They should contact an immigration service provider to navigate the new USCIS forms. 

2. Benefits received for U.S. Citizen children does not count.

Even if an immigrant is subject to the public charge test, SNAP, Medicaid and other benefits received by their eligible children will not be considered. It is always safe to get benefits for your U.S. citizen child, who may qualify for much more than an immigrant parent will.  And most adults and children who already have “green cards” are also not subject to the public charge test. 

3. Most immigrants should keep your benefits. 

Most immigrants who might be subject to the public charge test do not qualify for the federal benefits like SNAP that count for the rule. And most immigrants who qualify for the benefits that count for the rule are not subject to public charge. 

You can find more information about public charge and a list of organizations that provide free immigration services in MA here.

P-EBT Update: More P-EBT cards being activated but key communities need more outreach 

Attached is an updated P-EBT excel spreadsheet that shows, as of August 6th, the number of P-EBT cards issued by cities and towns and the percent that have been activated (pinned) and un-activated. Note, this excel spreadsheet is not a complete list of the 290K cards issued, and all students getting SNAP or TANF cash benefits got their P-EBT directly loaded onto the family EBT card, so they did not get P-EBT cards).

Below are the top school districts with the largest number of un-activated cards and percent of total issued for each city. 


Cards Left 8.6

%Pinned 8.6









FALL RIVER          





















Please reach out to your local officials and schools to see how you can help get the word out. There are excellent materials on the following website,

MA School Districts potentially eligible for universal free meals/Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) – August 31st DEADLINE: 

Yesterday, Breakfast after Bell House champion Rep Andy Vargas sent the attached email (see PDF) to all House and Senate members urging them to check out whether their school districts are eligible to elect the federal CEP option to provide 100% free school meals. Unfortunately due to the spike in the SNAP caseload, many more school districts and individual schools may qualify for CEP. 

Here is a link to a Google Sheet that Project Bread prepared with DESE data, listing the target school districts that may qualify for universal free school meals, or that have individual schools that could qualify (such as one or more elementary schools). The deadline for school districts to apply for CEP is August 31st under a special COVID-19 USDA extension.  Please help us reach these school districts. 

NOTE: the Google Sheet data is not 100% up-to-date because it uses “proxy” data from DESE. The student data, known as the “Individual Student Percentage” (ISP) would need to be confirmed with DESE. But this spreadsheet is a very good place to start.  The state will confirm with the schools the number of students (for June 2020) eligible for free meals through the federal SNAP, Medicaid or TANF programs or were in foster care or homeless. The 20% spike in the SNAP caseload has likely made more schools CEP eligible.

NEXT SNAP Coalition Zoom Meeting:  Tuesday, August 18th from 10 – 11:30 AM