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Hunger is a political problem. We need your voice!
Informing public policy for statewide, lasting impact

The leading cause of hunger in Massachusetts isn’t scarcity of food. Rather, the high cost of living in our state and the lack of living wage jobs prevent households from affording basic necessities. Project Bread engages Massachusetts legislators in policy solutions to strengthen critical nutrition programs while working with our partners to address the underlying factors contributing to hunger.

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Hunger is a political problem. We need your voice!

The Facts

Hunger in Massachusetts is caused, largely, by the slow growth of wages that fail to keep up with the high costs of everyday life such as housing, transportation, and childcare. These challenges are even harder for those facing other systemic inequities such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of bigotry.

Full-time workers should earn a living wage

In 2018, an hourly wage of $18.13 qualified as a living wage for a two-parent household in Massachusetts with two children and both parents working.

COVID-19 Impact

In June 17.3% of MA household report experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic. Up from 9.3% in 2018

Children are among the most vulnerable to hunger

1 in 5 households with kids in Massachusetts is food-insecure.


Our Policy Priorities

Changing public policies can make a substantial and positive impact in the lives of families who struggle to make ends meet. You can help influence policies that protect people from hunger by joining Project Bread's Action Team to stay in-the-know and raise your voice when you can influence change! 


COVID-19 Response

Food-insecurity in MA has skyrocketed in MA due to COVID-19 for those most at-risk. 

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Individuals and families across the state are feeling the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 crisis as they face challenges such as lost wages, school closures or an inability to stock up on necessary food during the stay-at-home advisory. Before this crisis, far too many of our neighbors in Massachusetts were facing food insecurity – 1 in 11 households and 1 in 10 children. As we confront this public health emergency with its record unemployment, the problem is growing exponentially. In June alone, approximately 1 in 6Massachusetts residents report experiencing food insecurity.

Here is what Project Bread is advocating for:

Federal Policy Recommendations 

1. Strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • Boost the maximum benefit by at least 15%
  • Increase minimum monthly benefit from $16 to $30
  • Suspend administrative actions that would eliminate, restrict, or weaken SNAP benefits
  • Make Disaster SNAP available to states to meet increased need
  • Expand eligibility by eliminating the gross income test and remove the cap on shelter deductions and medical expenses
  • Increase flexibilities around how and where SNAP benefits can be used, such as online purchasing and delivery services

2. Maintain and strengthen child nutrition programs

  • Make Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) permanent to provide meals during any additional unplanned school closures and during the summer
  • Extend waivers for child nutrition programs through the duration of the crisis, including the summer

3. Provide direct cash assistance

  • Make Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) permanent to provide meals during any additional unplanned school closures and during the summer
  • Expand the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to increase household funds for working families with children
  • Expand Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to increase funds for the lowest income families

4. Remove barriers to assistance for immigrant populations

  • Expand categories of immigrants eligible for SNAP without the five year waiting period
  • Reverse the administration’s harmful “public charge” rule which has a well-documented chilling effect discouraging immigrants from applying for federal assistance programs including SNAP
  • Extend stimulus payments to all taxpayers, including those who use a Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and ensure timely delivery of checks to households that have not filed a tax return

State Policy Recommendations 

1. Ensuring families and communities are accessing federal nutrition programs

  • Support Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline in the state budget
  • Support Project Bread’s Child Nutrition Outreach Program in the state budget/span>

2. Provide direct cash assistance

  • Provide additional cash payments through Transition Aid for Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) and Emergency Aid to Elders, Disabled and Children (EAEDC), particularly for families in deep poverty

3. Prioritize equity in coronavirus response

  • Pass emergency paid sick time to provide at least 15 additional days of job-protected paid sick leave
  • Ensure everyone has access to safe quarantine by identifying alternative sites for safe, dignified shelter for those without alternatives
  • Enact a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures, and termination of public benefits such as SNAP, MassHealth, disability benefits and access to shelter
  • Ensure immigrants have safe access to testing and treatment for the coronavirus by aggressively communicating that medical and social services will not share information with federal immigration enforcement

4. Ensure maximum utilization of federal nutrition programs

Though not a legislative action, we need the help of elected officials at all levels to ensure that every eligible person in Massachusetts is enrolled in the federal nutrition programs they need to put food on the table during this time of acute crisis and in the difficult weeks and months to follow. As leaders in their communities, legislators can help by educating their constituents about the options available and directing them to Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 800-645-8333.

Your support enables our rapid response and has widespread impact to combat hunger due to COVID-19.
Boost SNAP

SNAP is the most effective anti-hunger program, especially during a crisis. Congress must #BoostSNAPNow!

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Since the start of the pandemic, Congress has passed 3 major legislative packages address coronavirus, but unfortunately, none of these bills have met the calls of anti-hunger community to expand SNAP which include:

  • Boost the maximum benefit by at least 15%
  • Increase minimum monthly benefit from $16 to $30
  • Suspend administrative actions that would eliminate, restrict, or weaken SNAP benefits

On May 15th, the HEROES Act was passed by the House of Representatives. The HEROES act included the above asks as well as additional funding to SNAP and child nutrition programs. The Senate has yet to pass or any other additional Coronavirus response bill. It is expected some version will be introduced and voted on in July.

Take Action

Our senators and their colleagues need to hear from constituents how important it is that they vote to increase SNAP and support for federal nutrition program as soon as possible. Click here to send a message and then share the link with your friends and family in other states.

Breakfast After the Bell

Less than half of low-income children eat school breakfast, but breakfast after the bell can help increase access and participation to 150,000 children in MA!

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In traditional ‘Before the Bell’ programs, breakfast is served before the school day officially begins with students arriving early to eat breakfast in the cafeteria. Participation in traditional breakfast is often as low as 10% due to logistical and societal barriers.

Serving Breakfast After the Bell, through a model such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Grab & Go, or Second Chance Breakfast, can increase participation up to 80% or more. Breakfast After the Bell also:

  • removes logistical barriers to access, like late school buses, by allowing students to eat breakfast no matter when they arrive at school

  • reduces the stigma associated with eating breakfast by integrating the meal into the school day.

An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell (S.2473/H.4218) would expand access to school breakfast by requiring high-poverty schools to serve breakfast after the bell. Both the Massachusetts House and Senate unanimously passed their versions of the bill. While we believe a compromise has been found, we are still waiting for both chambers to schedule their final votes.

Take Action

As we near the end of the legislative session, your senator and representative need to hear from you! Click here to send a message about the importance of Breakfast After the Bell and a related bill on improving access to student nutrition.

Promote Student Nutrition

Address student meal debt by expanding access to universal school meals for Massachusetts students.

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Project Bread believes school meals is an important part of the school day. A hungry kid cannot learn. To that end, we believe school meals school be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial situation. Schools with high enough levels of need are eligible to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) to serve universal free school meals to all students. Otherwise, school meal fees are based on a household’s income determined either by participation in other assistance programs, like SNAP, or through a paper application.

  • Families whose income is below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free school meals
  • Families who income is 130 to 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price school meals
  • All other families must pay the “full price” for school meals. These meals are still partially reimbursed by the federal government.

For those students who have to pay meal fees are unable to do so schools may absorb the cost, serve an alternative meal such as a cheese sandwich, or deny the student a meal. When students are unable to pay both schools and families must deal with the burden of unpaid school meal debt.

An Act to Promote Student Nutrition (S.2664) addresses both the root causes of unpaid meal debt as well as the impact unpaid meal debt has on students. The bill would:

  • Encourages schools to adopt universal school meals through the Community Eligibility Provision or another federal option.
  • Eliminate the reduced-price fee so all families under 185 percent of poverty level would receive free school meals
  • Maximizing federal reimbursement for school meals to reduce burden on schools and families
  • Remove students from meal debt conversation to avoid unintentional shame or stigma.

Take Action

As we near the end of the legislative session, your senator and representative need to hear from you! Click here to send a message about the importance of school meals.

Close the SNAP Gap

Approximately 700,000 MA residents who receive MassHealth are likely eligbile for SNAP, but don't receive the benefit. Let's close the SNAP Gap!

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The SNAP Gap is the difference between the number of low-income Massachusetts residents eligible for SNAP, but because of one reason or another do not receive benefits despite receiving assistance from other programs like MassHealth. Most states implement a single eligibility system. It's time to close the SNAP Gap in Massachusetts!

An Act Improving Public Health Through a Common Application for Core Food, Health and Safety-net Programs (S.678/H.1173) would increase program access for SNAP-eligible individuals and families by developing a common application that allows low-income households to apply for MassHealth, SNAP, and other income based benefits including income eligible child care, housing, veterans’ services, fuel assistance and more.

Healthy Incentives Program

The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) increases the ability for SNAP households to purchase fruits and vegetables. Join us in supporting more funds for HIP!

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To increase access to locally grown fruits and vegetables for SNAP clients, the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) provides a 100 percent incentive – a dollar-for-dollar match – for each SNAP dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables purchased at farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs statewide.

Every year, Project Bread joins our allies to advocate for increased funding for HIP to ensure the program is available year round and to allow for expansion of vendors (farmers) who are included in the program.

Lift Kids Out of Poverty

Cash assistance for families hasn't increased in twenty years leaving some families who receive benefits still living in deep poverty. 

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Cash assistance programs such the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) provide a critical resource. Unfortunately, between cuts and inflation, the grants families receive in assistance are now half the value of what they were in 1988 at a time cost of living continues to skyrocket.

An Act to Lift Kids Out of Deep Poverty (S.36) and An Act to Reduce Deep Poverty Among Kids (H.102) would increase the amount of grants until they ensure no family with children is living in deep poverty (defined as 50% of the federal poverty level).


Stay Informed

Changing public policies can make a substantial and positive impact in the lives of families who struggle to make ends meet. You can help protect people from hunger by joining Project Bread's Action Team to stay in-the-know about policy and raise your voice when you can influence change!



Get Involved

We’re changing the conversation, and changing lives. Join us.