BOSTON -- Tuesday, March 18, 2014 -- Governor Deval Patrick today
announced steps to preserve Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program
(SNAP) benefits for approximately 163,000 households in Massachusetts
and avoid the loss of approximately $142 million in SNAP benefits set
tobe cut under the recently enacted federal Farm Bill.
"Government's role is to help people help themselves, and these steps
are necessary to help our most vulnerable residents and families meet
their most basic needs," said Governor Patrick.
Under the plan, the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) will
partner with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to provide at least $20 in heating assistance to eligible families
through the H-EAT program, which makes them eligible for an increase of
$80 in monthly SNAP benefits to help families pay for food. DHCD will
invest approximately $3 million to support the continuation of the
program and leverage the additional SNAP benefits for these families.
The investment will also help maintain economic stability for families
and businesses in Massachusetts, as each SNAP dollar spent generates
approximately $2 in economic activity for the state, according to the USDA.
"Reversing the cuts from the Farm Bill is a major step in helping
Massachusetts families work toward economic stability," said Secretary
of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz. "Any cut in benefit, no
matter the size, has a real impact on low-income families, and this
funding supports a program that makes a difference every day."
"This program continues to be a valuable resource for residents across
the Commonwealth," said Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary of the
Department of Housing and Community Development. "As the Administrator of the LIHEAP program, DHCD is pleased to join our sister agency in preventing cuts to the food stamp benefits that our neediest families have been receiving.
The heating assistance, known as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is federal assistance provided to the state to help low-income families defray heating costs.
"I'm so proud of Governor Patrick and his Administration for stepping up
and providing these resources to help some of our most vulnerable
neighbors," said Congressman Jim McGovern. "Despite what Speaker Boehner said last week (ironically, on the same day he invited Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress), this effort is not 'fraud' or
'cheating' -- it's an effort by states like Massachusetts to provide
food to hungry families."
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps)
is a fully federally-funded food benefit program administered by the
Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance on behalf of the
United States Department of Agriculture. The Department helps nearly one
in seven residents throughout the Commonwealth meet their most basic needs.