There are approximately 700,000 people in MA who are food insecure, and eligible, but not enrolled in SNAP. This is known as the "SNAP Gap", and we are working every day to close it.
At Project Bread, we know that food is the most basic of human needs, and until everyone has reliable access to healthy food, we will never level the playing field and efforts to address other inequities will be in vain. With the high cost of living in our state, and wages that have not kept pace, many individuals are struggling to afford food. Fortunately, there are programs that exist to provide access, and Project Bread works every day to connect individuals who are eligible to these programs.
Hunger advocates estimate that there are approximately 700,000 people in Massachusetts experiencing food insecurity who are eligible but not enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the most effective anti-hunger program in the country. As one of the organizations working every day to close this “SNAP Gap,” we know that requiring multiple applications at once or trying to reach back out to individuals to complete the second or third in a series of similar applications is not an effective process, and it is leaving people behind. There is a simpler, more effective, more efficient, and more impactful solution: facilitating data sharing within state government to allow for a common application and ensure individuals do not fall through the cracks.
That is why Project Bread is a proud member of the SNAP Gap Coalition and a supporter of An Act Improving Public Health Through a Common Application for Core Food, Health and Safety-net Programs (S.678/H.1173).
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to testify at the State House in support of this bill in front of the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing. I shared with the members of the committee our commitment to preventing and ending hunger in Massachusetts. I also shared that this legislation would help individuals with stories like Ms. V, who had just relocated to Worcester from Puerto Rico to be near her daughter, as she was finding it more difficult to live on her own. Her daughter had no previous experience with the application processes for MassHealth or SNAP, but she was learning that in order for her mother to thrive in her new home, she would have to get her connected to a variety of assistance options available to her. Time and again, her daughter had to take time off of work to go to multiple places to navigate multiple application processes, costing her income and delaying her mother's enrollment. These consequences could have been avoided if she had the ability to fill out one application for her mother's MassHealth and SNAP. Allowing for a common application and a streamlined submission of documentation means that individuals like Ms. V can receive the right support at the right time, ultimately reducing food insecurity, lowering rates of poverty, and increasing the overall health of our communities.
Click here to read my full testimony to the Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing. Then join us in asking legislators to support this bill and ensure a common application becomes a reality for our neighbors in need across Massachusetts. Click here to take action now.
Author(s): Erin McAleer