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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the nation’s “first line of defense against hunger.” SNAP remains a highly effective 100 percent federally- funded program. National economists estimate that every $1 in SNAP benefits triggers up to $1.70 in economic stimulus to the local economy.

Because of pandemic boosts, during 2021 and 2022 SNAP brought over $3 billion in federal nutrition dollars to one in seven low-income Massachusetts residents, with food purchases made at over 5,000 local grocers. Congress ended the boosted pandemic benefits in February 2023 and Massachusetts provided three months of partial extra payments from March through May 2023.

Receipt of SNAP not only gives low-income households resources to purchase healthy food – it also triggers:

  • Automatic federally-funded free school meals status (breakfast and lunch) for elementary and secondary school students. Note all MA children qualify for free school meals under state law regardless.
  • Regulated utility (natural gas and electricity) discounts.
  • Free or reduced fees for museums and cultural events through the Mass EBT Card to Culture program.
  • Access to the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, farm stands and CSAs.
  • Access to DTA Employment and Training (E&T) programs, and child care vouchers for families enrolled in E&T.

During the pandemic, students K-12 who qualified for federally-funded free or reduced-price school meals – including most children getting SNAP – received Pandemic EBT during the summer months and for days they missed school for COVID reasons. Pandemic EBT benefits ended the summer of 2023. Starting summer 2024, K-12 students who qualify for federal funded free or reduced price meals will be issued approximately $120/child in Summer EBT benefits.

This SNAP Advocacy Guide, produced by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), walks you through the core eligibility rules for SNAP including: how to apply, what proofs are needed, how much income is counted and benefits calculated, how the household composition rules work and more. It also includes advocacy tips on how to fix SNAP problems, such as inaccurate denials, inappropriate verification demands, how to file an appeal and what happens in a hearing. This Advocacy Guide tool is for low-income households, community organizations and legal services advocates.

SNAP remains a critical safety-net program in difficult economic times. It is especially important for low-income older adults and persons with disabilities to remain in the community, as a work support for low-wage families, and for homeless and unemployed individuals in economic crisis.


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