Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Administration

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation funds programs designed to increase the participation of residents eligible, but not currently signed up, to receive SNAP. The SNAP program, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal nutrition program administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) that helps low income residents stretch their food budget and buy healthy food.

SNAP is a federal entitlement program which means anyone who is eligible and applies for benefits will receive them. SNAP benefits are paid almost entirely by the federal government. However, in FY 2005 only 54 percent of eligible people were signed up to receive SNAP benefits ranking Massachusetts participation rate near the bottom when compared to other states at 47th. To increase participation, Massachusetts has funded and continues to fund programs specifically for this goal. In FY 2009, participation was up to 87 percent and Massachusetts' rank was 10th, and in 2012, 93 percent (ranking - 11th) of eligible people were participating. Participation rates for the eligible working poor are lower. In 2012, 71 percent of the eligible working poor were receiving benefits, up from 66 percent in FY 2009, and significantly higher than the 36 percent of eligible working poor who received benefits in FY 2005.

Massachusetts launched a number of initiatives to increase participation including streamlining the application and requiring only one signature to receive benefits. Reporting requirements for applicants have been eased and applicants do not need to re-verify eligibility if their status has not changed. Applications can be submitted in person, over the phone or online. Interviews, if needed, can also be conducted over the phone. DTA has a unit staffed to respond to SNAP inquiries, help determine eligibility and help applicants submit initial applications. DTA's outreach also includes recently piloted SNAP Outreach Centers where DTA staff are co-located within local community health and senior centers. Staff help applicants submit applications online and make sure they have all the information needed to secure benefits.

In October 2013, 890,000 people received SNAP benefits in Massachusetts, a 75 percent increase since May 2008. By July 2015, the number of people receiving benefits had decreased to 781,000. Currently, Massachusetts receives around $100 million in federal SNAP funds each month. In FY 2006 Massachusetts received $421.5 million for the entire year.

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