In follow up to Tuesday's SNAP Coalition meeting, this eblast includes the 2021 state Legislative priorities for Coalition members, introduces MLRI’s new Race Equity and Justice attorney Virginia Benzan, and DTA’s recently updated HIP Finding Tool. Also flagging the March 3rd Basic Benefits Training on Income maximization for Working Poor households.
Key Anti-Hunger and Anti-Poverty 2021 State Legislative Campaigns
Thanks to all who shared updates on their state Legislative campaigns at recent Coalition meetings. Attached is a summary of the top 2021 key legislative campaigns that SNAP Coalition members are working on. The document includes the current House and Senate Docket numbers, lead sponsors, short description of the bill and how to get involved.
We STRONGLY urge you to reach out to your State Senator and State Reps to ask them to co-sponsor all of these very important bills within the next few weeks. Priority bills for Coalition members include the:
· Common app campaign – locking in the SNAP gap, addressing the cash cap and more!
· Lift Our Kids campaign - boosting cash assistance benefits by 20%
· Keeping local DTA offices open campaign
· Hunger Free Campus campaign - and check out this powerful 2/25 WGBH news story on college student hunger
· Free Meals campaign – universal free meals for all
· End School Meal Debt campaign– addressing school meal
· Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) campaign
· SNAP Restaurant Meals Program campaign
MLRI’s Race Equity and Justice Attorney – Virginia Benzan
Virginia Benzan is the new Race Equity & Justice Attorney at MLRI. She previously worked in MLRI's Immigration Unit working on the impact of food insecurity programs on immigrants. Virginia is thrilled to build on MLRI's past work to address race equity in all of our advocacy and to advance a racial justice agenda.
MLRI also hosts a Race Equity Coalition that Virginia recently revived. The next meeting is Friday, March 5th at 10:00am. If you would like to join the Race Equity Coalition, please contact Virginia at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to meet Virginia (pun intended), she is hosting Introductory chats. You can sign up here
DTA’s New Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) Finder Tool
This is important news from DTA, shared at Tuesday’s SNAP Coalition. Please share broadly.
DTA has created a new tool to help SNAP clients find open Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) farm vendor locations near them for safe, healthy shopping options: DTAFinder.com. Clients who reside in an area with a winter HIP vendor will receive a text and DTA Connect alert today to connect them with this new HIP resource.
DTA Finder is an interactive map that allows you to search for up-to-date HIP locations. Some of the main features include:
- Search locations by month and day of week open or "open today"
- Search locations by city, county, or device
geolocation (“my location”)
- Search locations by availability of curbside pickup, delivery, and other distribution options
- View the names of HIP farms who sell at a farmers' market -- not all farms at farmers markets process HIP
- Export search results in Excel
- See information about the HIP vendor (description, contact info, products, picture)
- Navigate to the HIP location address using google maps
- Mobile friendly and available in 5 languages
Additional HIP resources:
· Tutorial videos on how to use DTA Finder on a mobile device and desktop computer can be found in English and Spanish on our YouTube channel.
· DTA’s Mass.gov/HIP pages have been updated to include more information on HIP, step-by-step instructions on how to use HIP at different types of vendors, and HIP flyers.
· For partner questions on HIP or DTA Finder, email our HIP mailbox at DTA.HIP@mass.gov. If clients have questions or need help using HIP or DTA Finder, please direct them to call our Assistance Line at 1-877-382-2363 or Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333.
Upcoming Basic Benefits Training: Income Maximization for the Working Poor
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
9:15 am–3:00 pm
This MCLE training includes an overview focusing on various supplemental benefits and cash assistance programs which help working families and individuals to maximize their income and reduce their expenses. This training is designed as an overview of means-tested benefits for new and experienced legal services advocates, lawyers in private practice, social and health services workers, and community activists who want to learn about or get an update on this subject in order to help their clients. Trainers include Gina Plata-Nino of Central West Justice Center and Julie McCormack of Legal Services Center of Harvard.
To Register for the live broadcast, go HERE Be sure to click on the category “non-atty advocate” for the discounted registration fee.
NEXT SNAP Coalition meeting, Tuesday, March 9th at 10 AM.