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Policy Updates; Coalition Meeting on April 26th

The next meeting of the Food SNAP Coalition is Tuesday, April 26th from 10 to noon at St Francis House in Boston (39 Boylston Street, Boston). The agenda will include an update on the state and federal budgets and discussion of recent SNAP policies (SUA, recertifications, immigrant household applications), and future SNAP waivers. An agenda will go out under separate email on Friday.

Meanwhile, we wanted to alert you to a number of important issues:

WIC program state budget cuts: As you may have noticed in the Boston Globe recently, the FY2012 state budget proposes to cut $2.6M in state dollars from the WIC program. http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/04/16/m... MLRI's House Ways and Mean budget analysis did not flag this line item (our oversight). WIC has not been under attack in years - this caught many people by surprise. Amendments have been filed to restore the $2.6M in WIC funding. Please contact your local State Representative to urge their support for restoration of WIC benefits. If your organization has developed any fact sheets on the cuts, let us know.

SNAP households who file timely recertifications but the SNAP benefits stop: Please let us know ASAP if you have any clients who receive a “blue letter” from DTA instead of SNAP benefits even though the household sent in a SNAP recertification form before the end of their certification period. Please also let us know about any clients who may not have received a "blue letter" but discover no benefits on their EBT card, even though they timley sent in a SNAP recert form. We need to know if SNAP households who send in their recert forms are successfully getting through Recipient Services or their local DTA offices to get their benefits continued. Please contact Kelly Love at MLRI. Kelly can be reached at klove@mlri.org or at 617-357-0700 x 306.

Expedited issuance delays: SNAP not so snappy? We have gotten more calls of delays in issuing expedited (fast) SNAP benefits - mainly for applications filed through the Boston and Springfield SNAP Web Units. As you know, households who have little or no income or liquid assets (e.g. income and liquid assets less than shelter costs) should qualify for expedited SNAP benefits within 7 days of application. We have heard that SNAP applicants who go through the Virtual Gateway are not always contacted by a DTA worker quickly enough to be screened for expedited SNAP benefits. There are still no questions on the web application that allow an applicant to state if they need benefits right away, or if they might meet the criteria for expedited SNAP benefits. Unless a household goes to a local office, it could be a while before they are screened. Please contact Pat Baker or Kelly Love if you are aware of these cases.

Webinars on SNAP student eligibility: MLRI's crackerjack AmeriCorps Member, Kelly Love, has started doing webinars for community-based groups on college student eligibility, including a walk through of the 2010 state changes affecting community college students in career-based programs. (The webinar basically a conference call and powerpoint at the same time!) If your organization is interesting in a SNAP webinar on student eligibility, or SNAP 101, let us know.