For Immediate Release - March 21, 2009

MORE THAN $300 MILLION IN FEDERAL RECOVERY FUNDS WILL BOOST SAFETY NET SERVICES FOR THOUSANDS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Seniors and SNAP recipients to see increase in benefits

WORCESTER - Saturday, March 21, 2009 - As part of his Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state's economic future, Governor Deval Patrick today joined Senator John Kerry to announce more than $300 million in federal recovery funds to help boost Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and to increase nutritional services for seniors.

The Elderly Nutrition Program will receive $2.1 million - $1.4 million allocated for nutrition programs at senior centers, and $700,000 allocated for home-delivered nutrition programs.

The Elderly Nutrition Program is the second-largest program operated by the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Twenty-seven nutrition programs located throughout the state serve more than 8.5 million meals to seniors each year. Meals are provided at more than 400 congregate meal sites and are delivered to frail elders in their homes. More than half of the total meals are served to homebound elders. This federal recovery funding will help provide 300,000 meals for seniors in need.

"This is an excellent example of collaboration between state and federal government," said Governor Deval Patrick. "The increase in SNAP benefits and Elderly Nutrition services builds on the success of the Hunger Summit we co-sponsored with Congressman McGovern last year. Since then, 100,000 additional people have accessed SNAP. The Commonwealth will continue to reach out to individuals, families and communities to reduce hunger."

"When the economy's hurting, seniors living on fixed incomes take a wallop. This is an investment in the quality of life and health of thousands of grandmothers and grandfathers across Massachusetts. It's more than a hot, nutritious meal, for many it's a lifeline to the outside world. My colleagues and I in Washington, together with Governor Patrick and Lt. Governor Murray here in Massachusetts, will keep fighting for our seniors so no one goes hungry," said Senator Kerry.

"Good food and nutrition are essential for good health," said Congressman Jim McGovern. "During these tough economic times too many of our citizens are going without--especially our seniors. It is a tragedy that we can help remedy. That is why I fought hard to increase monies for nutrition in the stimulus."

The SNAP benefits will receive more than $300 million (on average, households will receive about an 18% increase in benefits). Massachusetts will also receive over $3 million in each of fiscal years 2009 and 2010 for administrative funding for the SNAP program.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides an additional $19.9 billion for states to increase SNAP benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps. For individuals and families facing the difficult choice of purchasing groceries or paying their bills, increased SNAP benefits will be a welcome relief. The amount of additional SNAP funds is dependent upon household income and size. For example, a four-person household will likely see an $80 per month increase.

The increased funds will be automatically deposited into participants' Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) accounts. Participants will not need to do anything to receive these additional benefits. SNAP also provides a significant boost to local business. Every $5 spent in new SNAP benefits will generate $9.20 in economic activity.

"Addressing the nutritional needs of the Commonwealth's residents is vitally important, especially in this difficult economic environment," said Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby M.D. "These benefits will help many Massachusettsresidents avoid the difficult choice of paying for food or other necessities."

"During challenging economic times, every penny counts," said Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Julia Kehoe. "This funding will assist hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents to better afford healthy food. At the same time, it will allow the Department to meet increasing demand, continue to improve our business practices, and better serve people who are having difficulty meeting their basic needs."

"With the downturn in the economy and increasing numbers of seniors requiring some form of assistance, these dollars will allow us to provide substantial, nutritious meals to those in need," said Elder Affairs Interim Secretary Eleanor Shea-Delaney.

Investments to increase safety net services are a critical component of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:

  • Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;

  • Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future and support clean energy, broadband and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and

  • Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.

For more information about what the federal recovery law means for Massachusetts, please visit www.mass.gov/recovery.

About SNAP
Formerly known as Food Stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves nearly 600,000 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 their local DTA office, calling 1-866-950-FOOD, or visiting www.mass.gov/dta.

About MA Elderly Nutrition Program

For more information about services offered by the Massachusetts Elderly Nutrition Program please visit www.mass.gov/elders.

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