Food Assistance

Food Assistance provides access to food for those struggling to provide enough food to feed themselves or their families. The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) administers the two main programs in this subsection - the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps. See also the Children's Budget common thread on Food & Nutrition for the nutrition programs which are administered by different agencies.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program funds four regional food banks. The Worcester County Food Bank, Greater Boston Food Bank, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and the Merrimack Valley Food Bank provide surplus, donated as well as purchased food to over 800 hunger-relief programs in Massachusetts serving approximately 100,000 people weekly. Programs which receive food from the four food banks include pantries, soup kitchens, transitional houses, residential programs, youth and elder centers, shelters and meal sites.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) funds a supplemental nutrition benefit for low income households. SNAP is primarily a federal entitlement program, but Massachusetts funds a small supplement through the state budget. In 2010, Massachusetts received approximately $1.17 billion from the federal government for SNAP benefits. This line item was funded at $800,000 in the same year. The United States Department of Agriculture oversees SNAP at the federal level. In Massachusetts, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) administers the program. A separate line item directs funding to increase SNAP participation of residents who are eligible, but not currently signed up. Federal funding is based on the number of recipients in the state so increasing participation also raises the amount of funding the state receives from the federal government.

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