Close the "SNAP Gap!" Ask your local representative to co-sponsor House Docket #655 and your Senator to co-sponsor Senate Docket #247!
What's the 'SNAP Gap'?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamps Program, offers benefits to financially aid residents in the purchase of food. It is funded by the federal government and operated by the Department of Transitional Assistance out of the Department of Health and Human Services. In Massachusetts, more than 1.35 million residents are potentially eligible to recieve SNAP but only 763,00 are currently recieving these benefits. This means that there are a potential 680,000 MA residents that are not recieving SNAP, also referred to as the 'SNAP Gap'.
Closing the Gap
Representative Jay Livingstone and Senator Sal DiDomenico have each filed legislation: An Act Improving Public Health through a Common Application for Core Food, Health, and Safety-net Programs, to make accessing SNAP benefits easier to residents in efforts to minimize this gap. Presently, there are two seperate application processes for MassHealth and SNAP despite both programs being administered by DHUHS and despite both programs having the same eligibility and documentation requirements. A single online application for these core programs and other basic safety-net programs would allow more low-income residents ease of access to these offerings. The Federal government has even committed to covering 90% of the cost to make the required technology upgrades to make this possible.
In addition to the stand-alone success of raising the number of low-income MA residents recieving SNAP, making this change would leverage an estimated $841 million in federal SNAP dollars into Massachusetts, thus accessing 100% possible federal funding for food and nutrition assistance. Additionally, it would make it easier for eligible students to automatically qualify for the National School Lunch program. It would also dramatically increase efficiency in state government time by cutting the seperate application and data collection.
Find an interactive map here to see a town by breakdown of the estimated 'SNAP Gap': http://buff.ly/2l4GUHO. And then visit here to find contact information for your local legislators: http://buff.ly/2l4YqMg. The deadline for House members to sign on a co-sponsor this common application bill is Friday, Feb 3rd and the deadline for the Senate is after the bill is sent to committee but there is a push to get as many co-sponsors by Friday as well.
Further, there are dozens of other proposed bills that would positively impact the MA food system. Take a look at this list here: http://buff.ly/2jY8KYV.