Massachusetts Ranks in Nation's Top Ten for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation
This top Program Access Index (PAI) ranking by the federal government indicates that Massachusetts is succeeding in its efforts to assist low-income households access critical food and nutritional assistance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's PAI compares the number of SNAP participants over the course of a calendar year to the number of residents in the state below 125 percent of poverty.
"Access to nutritious food is essential for our residents to lead healthy lives, and for many households, health begins with SNAP," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "Congratulations to everyone at the Department of Transitional Assistance for their commitment to ensure that individuals and families have access to this important benefit."
"Providing easy access to safe and healthy foods is critical for folks across Massachusetts, especially during tough economic times. The success of this program is a testament to Governor Patrick's leadership and commitment to the health of our state," said Senator John Kerry.
"As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Hunger Caucus, I want to applaud the Patrick-Murray administration for all of their terrific work on this important issue," said Congressman Jim McGovern.
"Massachusetts has come a long way in the last few years in making sure that struggling families who are eligible for SNAP assistance get the help they need."
"Programs like SNAP are key to our economic recovery. They provide struggling families with the nutrition they need and simultaneously promote economic growth through the purchase of food. I am pleased to see Massachusetts as a leader in accessibility to this critically important program," said Congressman John Olver.
Nearly 800,000 individuals - or one in eight Massachusetts residents - now receive SNAP. Within the last year alone, the Massachusetts SNAP caseload has increased by more than 81,000 individuals (more than 48,000 households), or nearly 13 percent.
"I commend the Department of Transitional Assistance's staff, and our stakeholders, for doing an excellent job reaching people in need,' said DTA Commissioner Julia E. Kehoe. "The demand for food assistance is high and is likely to continue to grow, and we are committed to providing benefits as quickly as possible in these difficult times."
In addition to providing nutritious food, SNAP is a boost for the state economy. Every dollar spent in SNAP generates nearly $2 in economic activity. This means that $1.2 billion in SNAP benefits issued annually in Massachusetts equates to $2.4 billion in local production, sales and jobs for the Commonwealth. Since 2007, the amount of SNAP benefits issued in Massachusetts has nearly tripled, increasing from $38 million per month to more than $103 million per month. These federal funds are infused directly into the Massachusetts economy.
"More people are bringing home fresh, healthy foods to their tables in Massachusetts thanks to this program, there are 59 farmers' markets across the state that accept SNAP benefits, an increase of 97 percent from 2009," said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares, whose agency has partnered with DTA to enable farmers' markets to process payments by SNAP participants.
SNAP serves nearly 800,000 individuals in Massachusetts by assisting low-income individuals and families with purchasing healthy food. The program is federally funded and serves as the first line of defense against hunger. Individuals, families with children, seniors, and people with disabilities who are having difficulty meeting their basic needs are encouraged to apply for SNAP benefits by visiting www.mass.gov/vg/selfservice, calling 1-866-950-FOOD, or visiting their local DTA office.
About the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA)
DTA's mission is to assist low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, increase their incomes and improve their quality of life. Located within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Department ensures that the emergency and transitional needs of the individuals and families of the Commonwealth are met through a combination of federal- and state-funded programs. Massachusetts has a comprehensive system of programs and supports to provide to individuals and families in need in order to achieve greater economic self-sufficiency.
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