SNAP 101

Hi everybody. This is Mary Loughlin. I work in the SNAP outreach unit at the Department of Transitional Assistance and today we’re going to be going over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program This is an overview of SNAP um and we also like to call it SNAP 101 um it’s got the new cost of living increases that take place starting October 1st, so all the figures in the training are up to date On today’s agenda we’re going to go over snap eligibility the application process. We’re going to talk about household composition, financial eligibility, verifications, how you can help your clients maximize their SNAP benefits, SNAP certification, our SNAP voluntary programs, the Healthy Incentives Program, EBT card to culture, and how folks can access their SNAP benefits, also known as EBT so DTA’s mission. At DTA, we assist and empower low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, improve their quality of life and achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency We serve 1 in 9 residents in the Commonwealth through cash assistance, food assistance, as well as workforce training So this is just a snapshot of our caseload right now Again we serve 1 in 9 residents. Of those, 21.4% are age 16 older and 33.6% are have a disability. And if you’re ever interested in in um this information you can go to mass.gov and then in the search just enter DTA scorecard and you can pull up the latest month So let’s talk a minute about our programs. Again this training is going to go over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but we also have SNAP Path to Work, which is a voluntary program We have SNAP nutrition education, also voluntary and then we have our cash assistance program TAFDC, also known as Transitional Assistance for Families with Dependent Children Our ESP, employment services program that’s the training program for the TAFDC clients Our other cash assistance program is EAEDC, Emergency Assistance for the Elderly, Disabled and children, and then UMASS administers our state supplement program, SSP So how can you help folks apply? Things have changed due to COVID-19 Currently, none of our DTA offices are open, but we are serving clients by phone and online. So clients can apply through the DTA Connect Portal at dtaconnect.com. They can also send in a paper application either by fax or mail and if folks do not have access to download that paper application they can call our main number and request an application be mailed to them They can also call the main number, that 877 number, or call a local outreach partner to apply by phone If you’re an outreach partner, you can find the list, the complete list, of our outreach partners at mass.gov and then in the search just put outreach partner If you’re helping somebody or telling someone about the cash assistance programs TAFDC and EAEDC, there’s two ways folks can apply right now They can uh call their local DTA office and they can apply by phone or they can apply online at DTA Connect and the address is right there on the screen So let’s talk a minute about DTA Connect It’s a free mobile app and website. So they can either download it on their phone or they can go online to the website. All the information on DTA Connect is secure and confidential And at any time a client can complete a SNAP application, check their case status. They can also check how much money they have on their SNAP card, they can upload and submit documents right to their case They can also see if those documents sent to DTA have been processed They can get alerts for appointments and they can also read and print out their notices A lot of time we we always mail the notices, but many times clients either don’t get them, maybe they just moved and they didn’t give us an updated address, or maybe they accidentally threw it out They can go online to DTA Connect and read those notices So how do we determine if somebody’s eligible We use two different types of eligibility standards

The first one is non-financial. We need to make sure that they’re a resident to the Commonwealth. We need to determine if they’re a citizen or a non-citizen We want to know if they’re elderly or disabled, because special rules apply to folks that meet that status. There may be work requirements We do need to know they’re social. We do need them to prove their identity, or we can check a database and verify it for them. And we also need to know their student status, because again special rules apply In terms of financial, we need to know what is their earned income or unearned income, and we’ll talk a little bit more about the difference between the two And we also need to know their actual or anticipated income so that we can use it to determine their benefit and eligibility level So the SNAP application process. It starts with the folks sending us in on their application We do an interview. We then typically request verifications and proofs. A lot of times folks already know what they need to send in, so they send it in with the application which helps And then once the interview and all the verifications that are required are submitted we make a determination. Typically, the Department makes the determination within the 30-day time frame. If an individual has not submitted all of their verifications by that 30-day time frame and they have completed their interview we give them an additional 30 days to get those in So we may take up to 60 days to make determination, but typically we get it done well within the 30-day time frame And right now we’re working as quickly as we can The SNAP application. This is what the SNAP paper application looks like. It’s available in 13 languages. We also have a separate application for seniors, which includes more space for them to document medical expenses and you can go, for both of them, you can go to mass.gov to download it So let’s go over assisting persons The population is best served by this role may be elderly or disabled individuals or perhaps a household with limited english proficiency This role should not be used by SNAP applicants or clients living in a licensed group home and the assistant person role is typically fulfilled by an individual However, organizations may also be listed under this role So what can an authorized representative do they can partner with the clients? They can assist them with the application and re-certification of SNAP They can also get a second EBT card and if you want to designate an authorized representative. If somebody requests to do this, use the image10a form for this role and typically it’s a trusted friend or relative assisting person or agency if they request an individual or agency to speak with DTA about their case. You can also use the voluntary consent to release information form However, using that form does not allow them to receive a second EBT card or conduct the interview for the clients You would need to use the authorized rep form if you wanted to do that. So let’s talk a little bit about SNAP household composition A SNAP household is defined as an individual who lives alone, an individual that lives with others and purchases and prepares most meals separately from them, or a group of individuals who live together and purchase and prepare their meals together So when you’re doing a SNAP application for somebody, you really want to drill down on what is their household configuration looks like, because it really makes a difference on the application. So who can’t be a separate household, spouse is living together, partners living together with children in common Just because partners are not married if they have a child in common, they have to be on the same application Children under 22 living with parents and unrelated children under 18 were an adult supervisors or financially supports them. So who’s ineligible? Residents of commercial boarding houses If you live in a commercial boarding house although these are rather rare at this time um it means that you’re or you’re already getting meals so that would make you an ineligible Residents of institutions that provide more than 50 percent of their meals and then college students on meal plans that provide more than two-thirds of their meals. If a college student has a meal plan and it’s only providing 10 meals a week

or whatever, they would be eligible because that is not more than two-thirds So let’s go over an example. Albert is 72 He lives with his daughter and her two children. He pays his daughter $300 a month in rents and he also contributes towards the heating bill and he purchases and prepares the majority of his meals separately from the household So if you’re doing the application with Albert would you put down that he’s a household of one or a household of four? Correct Albert can be considered a household of one since he purchases and prepares the majority of his meals separately from his daughter. So you’re doing Albert’s application what you’d want to do is put down that he’s paying $300 in rent and then you’d also want to put down that he’s paying for heating and cooling even though he’s only contributing part of the amount He still would get credit and would receive the full heating and cooling standard utility allowance So these are the SNAP gross income limits. These amounts go up in February of every year So this isn’t due to change until 2021 Right now if you’re a household of one and you’re grossing less than 21.27 a month you would be eligible for SNAP if you meet the other other guidelines. If you’re a household of two and you’re grossing less than 28.73 you’d be eligible and so on So the the SNAP benefit levels just went up They’re effective October 1st ,2020 and they’re good through September 30th, 2021. So actually this is positive because the benefit levels haven’t increased in multiple years So they’ve gone up a little, which is which is good for the clients um For a household of one, the maximum benefit you can get is 204 and previously it was 194. If you’re a household of two the maximum you can get is 374 and so on So you might have heard your clients mention emergency benefits or expedited benefits. Let’s take a minute to talk about how someone qualifies for expedited benefits. The first thing we look at is does the household qualify for expedited service and then do they appear to be eligible for SNAP So how do we determine that well if you can answer yes to one of the three questions, they are most likely eligible for expedited benefits. So the first question you’d want to ask them is there gross income in the month of the application? Does it not exceed 150 a month and do they have countable liquid assets that do not exceed a hundred? So are they have less than a hundred and fifty dollars a month coming into them and do they have money in the bank, less than a hundred dollars The next question um if they don’t answer yes to that you’d want to ask them is there combined monthly gross income and liquid assets Are they less than the combined monthly rent or mortgage and their utilities? So with the money coming in does it cover their rent and utilities basically and then finally are they a migrant or seasonal farm worker I know you might not think we have a lot of folks that fit in this category, but we do have um seasonal farm workers in the state of Massachusetts um And then finally for expedited benefits identity is the only eligibility factor that must be verified within the seven day expedited time frame and typically DTA can verify this by just checking the social security database. Usually it takes overnight but that way once we get the proof back of their identity the following day um and then everything um checks out we can approve them for expedited benefits So what are mandatory verifications? Well the first one is identity and again we can verify that usually through the social security database Um we need to prove uh provide see proof of their Mass residency. Again we can verify that through the social security database but one of these other methods also works We need to know their social security number um We do not need to see the social security card Earned income We typically do need to see um pay stubs Okay so if they’re getting paid every week, we need four pay stubs. If it’s every two weeks, we need two pay stubs and those pay subs need to be uh consecutive. If somebody tells you

um that uh there they haven’t started work yet and they don’t have any pay stubs typically they can get a letter from the uh new employer saying this is what they anticipate they’re gonna you know they’re gonna make uh 15 an hour and they’re going to be working x number hours a week and we can accept that unearned income um Typically this is things like social security or unemployment and we can verify both of those because we have access to those databases but if it’s something else say child support or say alimony we would need some sort of proof um to show what that is and then non-citizen status. US citizenship can be self-declared and typically does not need to be verified unless um there might be something questionable, but if you’re talking to somebody that is a non-citizen we need to see their alien registration card, employment authorization card, etc So what are optional verifications? Well optional verifications are used to help the client maximize their benefits It’s really in their best interest to tell them about these optional verifications So the first one is shelter costs Shelter costs can be self-declared right in the application so if the person self declares say that they’re paying 500 a month in rent they do not need to provide additional proof of that rent unless during the interview they tell the uh the DTA caseworker oh no actually i’m paying 600 a month, well the self declaration is no longer valid and we would need to see additional proof Dependent care costs again these can be self-declared right in the application so um you know they can say um i’m paying this amount for child care and then i’m also paying an additional amount for an after-school program or they could say um you know i’m paying for this after school program and then there’s transportation costs to and from that program to pick the child up. All of that can be self-declared right in the application Heating utilities again that can be self-declared in the application So you want to drill down with the clients, you ask them are you paying for heat and they say no i’m not paying for heat but my landlord charges me extra in the summertime for air conditioning when somebody says that you put down that they’re paying for heating and cooling and this will allow them to get the highest standard utility allowance We really do not need to see the bills Um for the oil, gas, etc if they’ve self-declared it in the application Medical costs we do need to see um receipts for those and we’ll go over that um in upcoming slides and then child support payments we do need to see the court document showing the legal obligation and also proof that it’s being paid So let’s talk a little bit about this case, the case of Deborah Smith and what kinds of verifications are needed Debra has unearned income in the form of social security at 12 34 a month she pays 370 a month in rent and she self-declared that on her application she pays that extra fee for air conditioning also in the application she put down on the app that she pays for medicare part b and she pays an additional fifty dollars a month for prescriptions and twenty dollars a month for um ibuprofen and food care So the first one does she need to provide proof of the social security income Correct she does not because we can verify it using the social security database Does she need to provide proof of the rents? Correct she does not because she already self-declared it in the app Does she need to provide proof that she’s paying for the air conditioning? Correct, she does not because she self-declared it What about medicare part b? Right she does not need to ver um provide proof because again that can be verified using the social security database What about the prescriptions? Yes, she does need to provide a printout from the pharmacy If she would like she can redact the personal info just don’t redact what she what she paid um and then what about the ibuprofen and the foot care supplies? Yes she does need to provide us with the receipt On that receipt she should indicate the frequency of use So let’s say she’s going through a bottle of ibuprofen a month

next to the cost for that she should write one time per month and the same with the foot care supplies good job So how can you help folks maximize their benefits? By really helping them track their allowable deductions and these are the seven allowable deductions the earned income the standard deduction child support dependent care costs medical expenses shelter deduction and the homeless deduction and we’re going to go over each of those the earned income deduction so let’s take a minute to talk about earned income When you think about earned income you should only be thinking about income from wages or self-employment everything else falls under unearned income so only those clients that have income from wages or you know self employment income can claim the earned income deduction this is a really helpful deduction the more deductions you have that can result in a higher award so you’re going to take them gross monthly earned income times 20 percent and that’s their deduction the standard deduction everyone gets the standard deduction it is based on your household size the cost of living increase it did not impact um households of one to three members that still is at 167 a month but for four five and six members that did go up so if you’re a household of four your standard deduction is 181 if you’re a household of five it’s 212 and so on legally obligated child support um there’s multiple ways that we can verify the legal obligation it can be the court order it can be the separation agreement it could be a divorce decree or if it’s if they’re dealing with the department of revenue we can check the department of revenue documentation do need to verify payments many times i talk to a client and they would say yes i um do have to pay child support but i’m currently unemployed and i’m not able to pay it um so there’s no point in providing the verification because they they really at that time they didn’t need to claim it because they weren’t paying it i would always say to the clients once you’re able to start paying it then let’s submit a change um to your um to your case so how do we verify it recently canceled checks it could be um being withheld from their their wages um it could be being withheld from unemployment we could also get a written statement from the custodial parents and um we could also get proof that the non-custodial parent paid a third party so any one of those is acceptable the dependent care deduction a lot of folks don’t realize one of the things they tend to forget about is transportation costs to and from program sites now I understand under COVID not a lot of people have their folk their children in child care but some still do so make sure when you’re talking to a family with young children you know double check that they are paying any child care costs Now the reason they’re going to get that deduction is if they’re accepting or continuing employment complying with the SNAP Path to Work program or attending a training or education program that would prepare them for employment so if somebody is not falling under one of those three umbrellas they’re not going to be able to um claim the child care costs so you it’s a two-part question when you go over this with with your clients allowable expenses would include but are not limited to transportation to and from the site child and adult care costs before school after school or extended day programs etc so we’re going to take a few slides to go over medical expenses it tends to be underutilized mainly because folks don’t really understand what they can claim and also you know the burden of gathering verifications and proofs so who can claim medical expenses you’re considered a senior under the SNAP program if you’re 60 or older so i know that’s

different from other programs so just remember that 60 or older you’re considered a senior under SNAP or if the person is disabled and they’re eligible to claim they would be eligible to claim the medical expense deduction it’s important to remember for seniors and disabled folks if they claim their medical expenses it really can impact their SNAP benefit so who can claim the medical expense deduction they need to have um medical expenses in excess of 35 a month so if you’re talking to somebody and they say you know what I really don’t have any medical expenses um I mean the most I pay is maybe 10 a month for over-the-counter meds they’re not going to be able to claim the medical expense deduction you talk to another individual and they’re spending between $35.01 and $190 a month then their medical expense deduction would be $155. if you’re talking to a household and they’re spending more than $190 a month they’re going to get the actual amount that they’re spending minus $35 so actual amount minus $35 so let’s just go over some basic guidelines if you’re talking to a client that has less than $190 a month in medical expenses you really only need to verify the minimum of $35.01. When I first started working with clients I would try to drag every last um you know receipt out of them and sometimes it didn’t make a difference so for those folks that don’t have a lot just get them over that $35 thresholds and they can get the standard deduction of $155 if you’re already talking to somebody let’s say you’re working with a client that’s very low income and you know they’re going to get the maximum benefit claiming medical expenses is not going to increase their benefit so you don’t have to do that with them because they’re already getting the maximum those clients that you talk with that have medical expenses greater than $190 a month should definitely submit verification because it really can make a difference I do want to point out though that clients with higher income and low deductible costs they may not see an increase in benefits so if you can sort of help set expectations it can help reduce disappointment so what can you claim medical expenses that you can claim right off the top is health insurance that tends to be a big ticket item okay so their health insurance or their hospitalization policy premiums their medicare premiums that part you know a b and c and d medicaid spend down or cost sharing the next one is really transportation to and from medical services so the mileage for use of a private car or if they’re paying a friend or family member to drive them to and from a pharmacy or a medical appointment if they’re paying for the bus the subway the ride a shuttle etcetera they do need to provide those receipts when it comes though to mileage for use of a private car many seniors are driving themselves to and from the pharmacy to and from the medical appointment all they really need to do is um they can put that information right in the app um you know or they could let’s say it’s a lot of appointments they might want to just jot it down on a piece of paper and upload that as part of their proof documents you’d want to say Dr. Smith you know one time a month to and from one main street any town Massachusetts we’re going to check the mileage using google you know folks do not need to do that for us other medical expense deductions include medical care so doctor and clinic visits psychotherapy hospital and outpatient care alternative therapies, you know things like acupuncture um that that totally can be claimed dental care rehab services etc health related supplies these tend to add up for folks so don’t forget about foot care expenses dentures hearing aid batteries etc let’s see let’s take the example of hearing aid batteries let’s say um you know the client has a receipt for the hearing aid batteries and maybe

they’re going through them one a month they would just need to give us one receipt and then indicate the frequency of use okay prescription medications direct payments co-pays don’t forget about postage and handling costs um a lot more folks are getting their medic medication this way and they can claim the postage and handling uh medical equipment now typically they’re gonna be getting this like this is a one of expense um you know they’re not gonna be buying a wheelchair um typically every year so um some you know lifeline though that’s that’s a monthly bill so don’t forget about that one over-the-counter meds please remember that they do not need to be approved by a licensed medical practitioner or qualified health professional so some over-the-counter meds would include pain relievers skin care ointments foot care supplies vitamins supplements etc all of that is countable what the client needs to do they do not need to provide 12 months of receipts again they would provide one recent receipt and indicate the frequency of use on the receipt okay so let’s say they’re applying this is September let’s say they’re applying this month you know a receipt from August would be acceptable but a receipt going back you know maybe the beginning of the year that you know the worker wants to see something more recent so let’s talk about the Senior Assistance Office this office was founded to increase the number of senior households receiving the medical deduction um the workers that work at the SAO excuse me they spend a lot of time um checking with the client to see what kind of medical expenses they’re paying for to help them determine you know what’s relevant what’s not how can we help them increase possibly increase their SNAP benefit we want to really decrease the number of households that are only receiving the minimum monthly benefit we also want to decrease the churn rate for this population and increase the number of resource referrals if you want to reach out to the senior um assistance office that’s their phone number right now 833-712-8027 of the workers are working remotely but that number um would connect you to one of them so what can folks do when it comes to verifying their medical expenses there’s a number of ways to do it through invoices receipts but they can also use documentation from housing authorities if somebody’s living in income senior housing every year they have to recertify with the housing authority which helps determine what their rent is going to be when they do that they have to provide their current income and their expenses if they’ve already done that with the housing authority we can accept that as proof of their medical expenses so what we’ll do is we will document it documents from the housing authority as the document of evidence so that can be a shortcut for your clients um which you know many folks do not know about the shelter deduction anyone that has um rent or mortgage can claim the shelter deduction so it’s going to be rent mortgage property taxes homeowners insurance condo fees and don’t forget about mobile home park rents if somebody tells you that they’re paying for a mortgage and they say my mortgage is this your follow-up question should always be does that include taxes and insurance because it not not always does the mortgage include homeowners insurance so if their mortgage is twelve hundred dollars a month and they pay an additional hundred dollars a month in homeowner’s insurance their actual shelter expense is $1300 and that’s what you’d want to put in the application the standard utility allowance unfortunately um with the COLA increases these did not change so if somebody’s paying for heating and cooling they get the deduction of 646 if they’re only paying for electric they would get $396 and if they’re only paying for phone their deduction would be 45

so why are these deductions important because they all go into the SNAP formula, which helps determine their benefit um now it’s important to note there there is a cap on the shelter deduction this went up slightly under COLA um of 586 however the cap does not apply to anybody that’s a senior or disabled homeless deduction individuals that are homeless still get a deduction it’s obviously not going to be as high as the shelter deduction but the new homeless shelter deduction is 157 so who would this apply to anyone that lacks the fixed and regular nighttime residence or whose primary residence is a shelter a halfway house a temporary accommodation in the residence of another individual for no more than 90 days or a place really not designed for ordinary use so when you’re talking to somebody that identifies as homeless it’s important to just drill down and make sure you know that they fall into one of these categories SNAP certification what is that once you get approved for SNAP you’re certified for a set amount of time it can either be 12 months or 36 months depending on your households so those folks that are um certified for 12 months they’re gonna have to submit an interim report at month six typically these households have earned income or they may have mixed income types or they may include an abod also known as an able-bodied adult without dependence the edsap 36 that’s those are folks that are certified for 36 months this household only has unearned income and they’re elderly or disabled so for the 12 month simplified reporting this is just a little little chart showing you when the ir and the research is due so the interim report is sent 45 days before the end of month six so they have plenty of time to get it in and then the recertification form is sent 45 days before the end of month 12 if you’re an outreach partner or even if you’re not an outreach partner you can assist the client with submitting either one or both of these it’s really important for folks to get those in on time because if they don’t if they miss the interim report or the research um deadlines their case could get could get closed and if their case is closed they’re going to have to reapply so that’s not ideal for the clients and that contributes to what we call churn so EDSAP reporting, there is no interim report at the halfway mark there’s only the recertification it’s sent 45 days before month 36 so if you’re working with a senior or a disabled individual and they fall into this category it’s important to note that they can still talk to us within that 36 month time frame we’re not saying to them don’t tell us about updates we don’t want to hear from you absolutely if their income goes down they should let us know um if their shelter costs go up they should let us know because we can make the changes to their case and then recalculate and their benefit is either going to go up or it’s going to go down so people can still reach out to us if they have changes but the whole reason we extended it from two years to three years was to cut down on churn and cut down on the number of the amount of paperwork that these folks would have to send us so let’s talk about our voluntary programs SNAP Ed. We have a whole division that um whose primary aim is SNAP education and it’s meant to provide SNAP consumers with the information and tools they need to help help make them make good choices about nutrition it’s hard to budget your make your food budget if you’re relying on SNAP and you’re bringing some money to the table, so SNAP Ed is there to help you make some um good choices it’s the goal is to improve the likelihood that individuals will make healthy food choices within their limited budget also to you know talk to them about a

physically active lifestyle um so that it you know meets up with the dietary guidelines for americans and also the my plate and that’s the new SNAP nutrition brochure and their new logo so how do you make referrals in the past some of our SNAP Ed partners would do food demos and waiting room displays at the local Transitional Assistance offices unfortunately because they’re all closed that’s not happening so a lot of the SNAP Ed programming is just taking place online if you want to refer clients just use the um the address at the bottom of the screen SNAP Path to Work used to be called E&T employment and training it provides our SNAP only clients with the skills training experience education and employment support needed to help find good paying jobs their much our SNAP E&T providers are much like our SNAP outreach providers um these folks help uh our clients um you know it could be uh high set training um it could be you know uh on the you know job training um they you know this this website provides a whole lot of um information about the SNAP um E&T providers um so you could make a referral um to one of them participation in SNAP Path to Work is strictly voluntary and we want to make sure we offer people the opportunity to participate in the programs again due to COVID-19 a lot of these activities are all taking place online but they’re still ongoing so I hope by now everybody has heard about the Healthy Incentives Program if you haven’t we’re just going to take a moment to go over this really important program so Healthy Incentive Program or HIP helps provide SNAP consumers um the opportunity to buy more fruits and vegetables for their households everybody that’s currently enrolled in SNAP is automatically enrolled in HIP they don’t have to do anything else the SNAP households will receive a dollar for each dollar they spend on fruits and vegetables up to a monthly limit so if you’re a household size of one to two your monthly limit is forty dollars if you are a household of three to five it’s 60 and if it’s a household of six plus it’s 80 so what you need to do is you need to spend your SNAP dollars at a farmer’s market a farm sand a mobile market or a CSA. okay so you cannot earn HIP benefits if you’re shopping at Stop and Shop or Big Y, it’s got to be one of these four points of sale so how does it work you want to look for the HIP logo at the farmers market, farm stand, etc make your fruit and veggie purchase earn the incentive you want to get your receipt and just double check that your incentive was earned and for each month you want to make sure you’re reaching your monthly cap of forty sixty or eighty dollars so if you look at this receipt um they spent their money at Friday’s farm In Middleborough, their SNAP beginning balance they had 104.71 cents on the card they spent seven dollars on 50 and 50 cents on lettuce and tomatoes and they earned seven dollars and fifty cents towards their um HIP incentive so what was their ending balance it’s the same okay so they earned seven dollars and fifty cents towards the HIP incentive and it was like their card was debited they got the money right back on the card and their SNAP that balance is the same once people see that they’re very excited about the program so what can you buy any variety of fresh whole or cut fruits and veggies without added salt sugar fat or oil it could also be canned dried or frozen again without the added salt sugar fat or oil and it can be any locally grown fruits and vegetables reflective of seasonable seasonal availability and it’s me it’s meant to match the SNAP fruit and vegetable staple food group so it’s not anything different than what you could buy um with your EBT benefits so again more information about how it works the funds are immediately added back to the SNAP recipient’s EBT card it can be used the incentive can be used right away or save for a future purchase at any

SNAP retailer on any SNAP eligible foods the way I used to explain this to clients that were new to the program that really haven’t tried to access HIP before is I would say to them you need to spend SNAP to earn HIP okay and the incentives can be earned at 200 plus participating agricultural retailers and right now we are actively working to increase the number of agricultural retailers so that number is hopefully going to go up and this is what the nice logo looks like so how can you help you can help us remind clients that they can increase their SNAP benefits with HIP you can tell them how they work and where to go for information on HIP retailers so what you want to do is let’s say you’re talking to your clients and you’ve explained HIP to them and they say well I don’t know which farmer’s market in my in my area accept SNAP yep you’d want to go to www.mass.gov/hip and then you’re going to pull up the mass grown map so you can search by farmers market farm stand csa or mobile market and this is the icon on the screen for the farmers markets and you could put down the radius let’s say you put in your town and then say you know your client only wants to travel within a five mile radius of that town you’d put that information in hit search and it would populate with all the farm farmers markets near that town you click on the icon and it gives you the name and location and the time that that farmers market takes place and then you could actually download that information and you know put it together on you know um you know a spreadsheet for the clients and and email that to them you can also if if that is not possible for you to do you can tell them to call the Project Bread FoodSource Hotline and they can advise them and then you can also call the DTA HIP call line this is a great program once clients start utilizing it it’s a wonderful way to get more fresh fresh fruits and veggies into their um you know their food budget and and just help them maximize their benefits let’s say a client is in a household of one to two let’s say their regular SNAP benefit is a hundred dollars with HIP they could be accessing 140 worth of food for the month so it makes a big difference EBT card to culture prior to COVID-19 this was going really well um because folks were using this program to be able to get reduced and deeply discounted emission or tuition to cultural venues it’s a partnership between the mass cultural council and DTA and 178 cultural organizations the organizations provide regularly available free or discounted admission to their programs and all you need to do is show your EBT card how does it work what you want to do to check which organization is participating is go to that address on the screen check their website and then all you need to do is show um your EBT card when you go to the venue now obviously a lot of places are still closed um but hopefully when we reopen this program is going to be popular again it was very popular prior to all the closures so the electronic benefit transfer or EBT card um this is what it looks like um the top card has the photo of the clients um but many clients do not need to have their photo on the card so this is the other example it’s valid without the photo clients can only buy eligible food items with their SNAP benefits and a list of the eligible food items is available at the address on the screen so once the client’s been approved for benefits an EBT card provides access again many clients do not have to have their photo on the card clients can check how much money they have on their card by calling the number on the back of the card that’s that 800 number

or they can actually go on DTA Connect and check their balance if you’re not sure which um site accepts EBT they can look for the quest mark on the door or many times stores put signs up that says we accept EBT or they might have the SNAP sign and folks always want to check their receipt to make sure that the amount on the receipt is the same as the amount of their purchase so why what are the benefits of receiving SNAP well you can qualify for discounts on your utilities it can help you become eligible for fuel assistance and we will send information about the ly heat program the low income home energy assistance program um some SNAP households will automatically be enrolled in Heat & EAT some households may be eligible for their earned income tax credit and we’ll send them information about that they can qualify for the free lunch program for their children they can have access to the SNAP nutrition education classes they can access EBT card to culture it really helps our seniors and disabled individuals age in place more successfully they can also qualify for the Youth Path Pass Program if they’re between the ages of 18 and 25 and a liv live in a participating town so this is a recorded uh training soIi’m not going to be able to answer your questions but what you can do is you can email us at um dtasnapoutreach at massmail.state.ma.us and we can either follow up but with you by email to answer your questions or we can give you a call and go over any concerns you may have I hope that you found this training helpful and we look forward to working with you thank you