Opinion » Guest Opinion

Guest Opinion

by Leemarie Mosca, President/Executive Director, Rosie's Place
Wednesday May 29, 2019

This article is from the May 30, 2019 issue of South End News.

Joanne is homeless and suffers from a disabling joint disease. She tries to maintain a strict diet for her health but often must eat whatever is available to her. If she had been able to sign up for SNAP (also known as food stamps) when she enrolled in MassHealth, she would have been able to get the nourishment she needs right away.

What would have helped Joanne is pending legislation to "close the SNAP gap," co-sponsored by Representative John Santiago and Senator Chang-Diaz, among others. "An Act improving public health through a common application for core food, health and safety-net programs" (S.678/H.1173) would help thousands of Boston residents receive access to vital food assistance for themselves and their families by creating a single application process for both MassHealth and SNAP.

In Boston, more than 72,000 low-income individuals—including Rosie's Place guests like Joanne—are currently covered by MassHealth but are not receiving SNAP, a benefit they are very likely eligible to receive.

Those individuals have to navigate two complex application systems that create barriers for people and also create double the work for the state. Supporting increased access to available federal nutrition benefits with one application would reduce hunger, improve public health, and protect some of the most vulnerable people in Massachusetts.

We urge the Massachusetts Legislature to take quick action to enact this legislation and close the SNAP gap.