Introduction

Produced by Patricia Baker and Victoria Negus
Reviewed January 2020

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the nation’s “first line of defense against hunger.” SNAP remains a highly effective 100 percent federally funded program that brings over $1.2 billion per year in nutrition dollars to one in nine low-income Massachusetts residents, with food purchases made at over 5,000 local grocers. National economists estimate that every $1 in SNAP benefits triggers a $1.72 economic stimulus to the local economy during recessionary times. 

Receipt of SNAP not only gives low income households resources to purchase healthy food – it also triggers automatic free school meals status for elementary and secondary school students, allows SNAP households regulated utility discounts, access to museums and cultural events at a discount and more. When in season, SNAP households can also qualify for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets.

This SNAP Advocacy Guide produced by the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) walks you through the core eligibility rules for SNAP: How to apply, what proofs are needed, how much income is counted, how the household composition rules work and more. It also includes advocacy tips on how to fix SNAP problems – inaccurate denials, inappropriate verification demands, how to file an appeal and what happens in a hearing. This Advocacy Guide tool is for low income households, community organizations and legal services advocates.

SNAP remains a critical safety-net program in difficult economic times. It is especially important for low-income older adults and persons with disabilities to remain in the community, and as a work support for low-wage families, homeless and unemployed individuals in economic crisis.

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