Nav menu toggle
Nav menu toggle
Close nav menu
September 14, 2020
COVID-19: Hunger & Food Resources for Households

How to access food assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Para leer esto en Español, apriete aquí. 

Information and links to food assistance programs in Massachusetts can be found below. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all available programs and that information is subject to change as information is continuously changing. 

Click a resource below to jump directly to that section

 SNAP (Food Stamps) 

Start with SNAP

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a federal nutrition program that provides eligible recipients with a monthly cash benefit to purchase groceries.

Learn more here.

  • SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers' markets and co-op food programs. 
  • SNAP benefits are given to you each month on a plastic card called an EBT (electronic benefits tansfer) card, which works like a debit card. 
  • SNAP is a nutrition program. It is not a welfare cash assistance program (which is called TAFDC). 
  • SNAP is a federal entitlement program. That means anyone who is eligible will receive benefits. You will not be taking away benefits from someone else if you apply. 

During COVID-19 Crisis

If you have lost your job or work hours because of COVID-19, you can apply for SNAP at any time. You do not have to wait to file an application. Changes to SNAP during the crisis include:

  • Everyone eligible will receive the maximum household benefit  
  • As of September 2020, applicants will need to complete a phone interview
More information for workers who lost hours or jobs due to COVID-19: English Español

How to Apply 

  • Apply for SNAP benefits today by visiting DTA Connect.
  • New SNAP recipients will receive their EBT card by mail only and it may take 5-10 days to receive your card. People experiencing homelessness can use a shelter address to receive their card.

 Free Meals for Kids & Teens 

Free meals will continue to be available for pick up for all kids and teens through December. 

  • The schools in your district are required to provide meals, if you have questions about receiving meals from your school district, please contact them directly.
  • All kids and teens ages 0-18 are eligible to receive these free meals. 
  • No registration or I.D. is required. Just drop in!
  • Meals may be picked up by parent/guardians.

 WIC (Women, Infants & Children)

WIC is a federal nutrition program that provides healthy foods, nutrition education, and other services free of charge to Massachusetts families who qualify.

During COVID-19 Crisis

People who use WIC should plan to arrive at the grocery store early in the morning before items are cleared out for the day. You can call the store and find out what days they are restocking certain items. 

How to Apply

Families should check out WIC's eligibility page and can apply online for WIC services. Families can also call WIC at 617-721-6601 or 1-800-942-1007 Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm. If you hear a recording, please leave a message with your name and telephone number.

Parents, grandparents and foster parents may apply for children under the age of five years who are in their care. 

Click here for more information and updates.

 Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)

Families who need help activating their P-EBT Card:

Having trouble setting up your EBT Card Pin?? When they ask for the last four digits of your SSN, put in the last four digits of your student's case number in the right hand corner of the letter. When they ask for the birthday, put the two-digit month, day, and year of your student's birthday. For example June 20, 2010 would be 0620210. 

  • Need your child's case number to activate your P-EBT Card, click here. 

Families who are still waiting to receive their P-EBT Card:

As of July 21, DTA has started the process of printing and mailing outstanding cards to families who are still waiting to receive them. Please note: not all families will receive their cards right away. They are continuing to print and mail cards over the next few weeks. Please be patient if you are waiting for yours, especially when you begin to see other families receiving their cards. If you do not receive your card in two weeks, check in with the FoodSource Hotline for an update: 1-800-645-8333. Monday-Friday: 8am-7pm. Saturday: 10am-2pm.

Activate your P-EBT Card

P-EBT provides households an EBT card with the value of free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days that schools are closed to help them purchase groceries.

  • P-EBT is a crisis response program created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

  • All Massachusetts students (K - 12 grade) who are enrolled in or eligible for free or reduced-price school meals or attend a school that offers universal free school breakfast and lunch will receive the P-EBT benefit at the end of May/early June. If you are a household that receives monthly SNAP benefits, you will receive your P-EBT benefits on your current EBT card.

  • Like a debit card, the P-EBT card can be used to purchase food at grocery stores. 

  • Using the benefit will not impact a family's or child's immigration status. 

  • View & Download: P-EBT Fact Sheet: For Partners/Providers

  • View & Download: P-EBT Fact Sheet: For Families 

Getting your benefits

  • Already have an EBT Card: Households who receive SNAP or TANF and already have an active EBT card have already received their first issuance of P-EBT benefits on April 30th. To check if you received your P-EBT benefits, call the number on the back of your EBT card. If you did not get benefits, but believe you are eligible, call the DTA Assitance Line. 

  • Households who do not have an EBT card will: 

    • Receive a letter in the mail from the DTA informing you that you are receiving P-EBT and to look for the card to arrive in the mail. These notices will arrive in the mail starting the week of 5/25/20, they are being sent in batches and will not arrive to everyone all at the same time. KEEP THIS LETTER. It has instructions for setting up the P-EBT card pin number and includes the student’s case number. If you do not receive a notice by mid-June, but believe you are eligible, call Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline
    • KEEP YOUR EBT CARD after you spend all the benefits. These cards will be reloaded with a second issuance of P-EBT funds in a few weeks

If you are a household that is eligible to receive SNAP benefits, Project Bread strongly encourages you to enroll in SNAP as soon as possible to expedite receiving P-EBT. If you have questions or need assistance, please call Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline. 

 Will I receive Pandemic-EBT?

  Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is a program that offers well-balanced meals to adults through home delivery or congregated dining sites. 

  • Meals on Wheels is run by senior nutrition agencies located throughout Massachusetts. 

  • Call 1-800-243-4636 to find the closest agency. 

  • If you need home-delivered meals, staff will make an appointment for a home-delivered meal assessment.

 Food Pantries

Food pantries provide free emergency groceries to individuals and families in their local communities.

For the latest information about pantry hours and operations, please visit:

If you are seeking support from food pantries at this time, and are not currently enrolled in SNAP, Project Bread strongly encourages you to learn if you are eligible for SNAP benefits and to apply. This will provide you with consistent, monthly cash assistance to purchase your own groceries. 

 Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline 

Project Bread's toll-free FoodSource Hotline is the only comprehensive information and referral service in Massachusetts for anyone facing hunger or needing food assistance.

If you or someone you know living in Massachusetts needs food assistance, please refer them to Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline, toll-free and confidential,  at 1-800-645-8333. Monday-Friday: 8am-7pm. Saturday: 10am-2pm.

Our counselors can assist callers with:

Information, eligibility, and over-the-phone application assistance with SNAP

  • School meal site information
  • Summer meal site information
  • Local community resources, such as food pantries and meal services

Our counselors can assist callers in 160 languages and their is a dedicated line to assist our hearing-impaired community at  TTY: 1-800-377-1292. More information can be found, here. This service is available to all Massachusetts residents. 

Author(s): Project Bread

Filed under: Informing Public Policy, News and Events, FoodSource, Community Solutions, Children and Schools, For the Media, Donor, Reports and Studies, Ways to Give, Get Help