- Department of Transitional Assistance
Media Contact for Massachusetts Adds Community Partners and Launches Technology Upgrades to Address Ongoing Food Insecurity
Alana Davidson, Director of Communications
Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced additional partnerships and increased investments in technology to support access to food security programs. At a meeting with more than 100 local SNAP community outreach partners – trusted groups in the community critical for helping people to understand and enroll in the program – Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Commissioner Amy Kershaw recognized the outstanding work done during the pandemic to connect residents with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and welcomed 19 new SNAP outreach partners brought on over the past year.
Additionally, DTA announced technology enhancements to expand access and streamline customer experience. Today, DTA is launching significant changes to the DTA Assistance Line, including simplified menu options to provide individuals and families with information about their benefits and reporting requirements. This self-service option is available 24 hours a day, empowering families to do business with DTA at a time that works best for them.
“The economic impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis exacerbated food insecurity for individuals and families across the Commonwealth, and it is through continued community partnerships and collaboration that we are able to maximize food assistance for residents facing food insecurity.” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Massachusetts will continue to leverage every opportunity to tackle food insecurity and remove barriers and maximize federal nutrition programs to help residents.”
“As we work closely with partners across the Commonwealth to respond to the greatly increased food insecurity and move towards a post-pandemic economy, we know that trusted, local resources are some of the first places people are going for assistance. I am grateful for our new and existing partners’ joint efforts to help people access vital food resources,” said DTA Commissioner Amy Kershaw. “SNAP has been a vital tool in addressing food insecurity, and we’re pleased to bring on strong partners and enhanced technology to continue to improve people’s access to SNAP.”
These new enhancements will enable callers to be directly connected with their case worker, a staff member in their preferred language, or specialized staff to learn about domestic violence services, workforce training and education opportunities, and how they can coordinate accommodations due to disability. Individuals and families can get help from staff in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Haitian Creole, the latest additional language supported. Interpreters are available for additional language support. Building on improvements from the past year, these enhancements also allow the Department to accept electronic telephonic signatures for program applications and eligibility forms.
"QARI is proud to partner with DTA to assist all immigrants with applying for or recertifying SNAP benefits and supporting them in resolving issues related to their benefits during the pandemic," said Tina Ho, Integrated Service Lead of Family & Community Services at QARI and SNAP Outreach Partner. "Many non-English speaking families have not heard about SNAP and did not know that they may be eligible. During the pandemic, we have seen the need for food assistance grow and it has been especially difficult to find culturally sensitive food options. Our team is raising awareness about SNAP and providing application assistance in our community to ensure that all eligible individuals or families have access to buy fresh and nutritious food."
The pandemic has shown the importance of equitable access points in communities, online, and over the phone. Bringing on new partners and investing in changes to the Assistance Line strengthens DTA’s work to support residents during the COVID-19 public health emergency and into the long-term, including:
- Making it easier than ever to apply by creating the ability for residents to apply online or by phone for all agency programs
- Sending proactive text and email messages to keep people updated on their case
- Issuing emergency SNAP benefits and increasing benefit amounts by 15%
- Launching the SNAP Online Purchasing Program to allow SNAP recipients to buy groceries online from Walmart, Amazon, ALDI and Price Chopper from the privacy of their own home
- Investing $5 million in the Healthy Incentives Program to bring on new retailers and launch DTA Finder
- Continuing to be a national leader in Pandemic EBT to support children’s food security
- Creating the DTA Assistance Line Roadmap
The SNAP Outreach Program is a joint effort between DTA, Commonwealth Medicine/University of Massachusetts Medical School and local community organizations to help households understand and complete SNAP applications and recertifications and gather and submit required information and documents. Find a list of all partners at Mass.gov/SNAPOutreachPartners.
The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) assists and empowers low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, improve their quality of life, and achieve long term economic self-sufficiency. DTA serves one in eight residents of the Commonwealth with direct economic assistance (cash benefits) and food assistance (SNAP benefits), as well as workforce training opportunities. You can contact DTA at 877-382-2363 or Mass.gov/DTA.