About the SNAP Program

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Congress first created the Food Stamp Program in 1964 to reduce hunger by increasing the food-buying power of low-income households. The landmark Food Stamp Act of 1977 modernized the Food Stamp program by removing the “purchase” requirement and made other important changes that enabled more low- income households to access benefits. In 2008, Congress renamed the program to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (most states, like Massachusetts, adopted this name). SNAP was most recently reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2023 Farm Bill will likely be taken up in Congress toward the end of 2024. We appreciate all of the Massachusetts anti-hunger organizations for their continued advocacy to protect and defend this important program!

In Massachusetts, the SNAP program is administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). Since 2015, and in collaboration with MLRI and the Massachusetts SNAP Coalition, DTA has focused its efforts on improving customer service and timely processing, applications and forms, and simplifying reporting rules. DTA has created a specialized Senior Assistance Office (SAO) for low-income older adults; increased the number of SNAP Outreach Partners; and implemented an “Elder/Disabled Simplified Application Project” (EDSAP) to extend SNAP certification periods and reduce burdensome reporting. They created the DTAConnect.com online platform and the DTA Connect mobile app; and overhauled SNAP application and recertification forms.

DTA’s investments in improving the SNAP infrastructure allowed DTA to quickly respond when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Between March 2020 and November 2022, the SNAP caseload in Massachusetts increased by 40 percent. When COVID-19 struck, DTA quickly implemented an option to apply by phone, caseload wide text messaging, waived interim reporting, simplified recertifying benefits, and issued SNAP “Emergency Allotments” and Pandemic EBT.

However, in December 2022, Congress passed and the President signed an “omnibus” Consolidated Appropriations Act to end the Emergency Allotments early (previously they were tied to state and federal public health emergency declarations) and to cut the amount of Summer P-EBT benefits for summer 2023. Fortunately, Congress agreed to fund a permanent “Summer EBT” program, but with benefits at a much lower level than under P-EBT.

In December 2023, the MA Legislature included funding in a Supplemental Budget to provide state-funded SNAP to legally present immigrants ineligible for federal SNAP. In April 2024, DTA had to end this program due to lack of funding. Join the Feeding Our Neighbors Coalition to advocate for more funding. 


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