FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bracing for a New Hunger Crisis on the Horizon: As COVID-era SNAP Benefits Come to an End
State will lose up to $95 million in food benefits for 1 million residents
BOSTON, MA – (January 26, 2023) – Like other states, Massachusetts has been managing a rolling hunger crisis, driven by COVID, unemployment and inflation, with a new crisis looming on the horizon – the end of COVID-era SNAP benefit increases in March.
SNAP Emergency Allotments will end as of February 2023 and SNAP clients will receive their last COVID SNAP payment on March 2, 2023, impacting over 1 million people in Massachusetts. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated, on average, a reduction of $162/month in SNAP benefits per household in Massachusetts and $97/month per person. About 500,000 households will lose approximately $270 per child.
Leading Hunger Relief Organizations including The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) partnered with the State House News Service yesterday for an event to address this coming crisis and the overall state of hunger in Massachusetts. The event included recorded remarks from Congressman Jim McGovern, a national leader on hunger who spearheaded the recent White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, which announced a national strategy to end hunger by 2030, and how Massachusetts can carry forward the same goal.
“The White House Conference was just the beginning,” said McGovern. “The national strategy lays out what all levels of government can be doing: local state and federal, as well as what philanthropic and non-profit partners can be doing to implement the strategy. Here in Massachusetts, we are already hard at work to implement an ambitious blueprint to end hunger statewide.”
A panel, moderated by Karen Holmes Ward, Director of Public Affairs and Community Services at WCVB, featured State Senator Jo Comerford and Rep. Hannah Kane, Co-Chairs of the Massachusetts Food System Caucus, Project Bread President and CEO Erin McAleer, and The Greater Boston Food Bank President and CEO Catherine D’Amato.
“We need to be mobilizing legislators to make this a top priority. We need to bring more people to the table to advocate for these solutions,” said Project Bread President and CEO Erin McAleer. “The systems around people who have experienced hunger are failing them, which is why capturing the voices of people with lived experiences is necessary to help break the stigma and address the hunger inequality with systemic solutions.”
With support from Project Bread, nineteen organizations sent a letter to Massachusetts’ new Governor and Lieutenant Governor laying the groundwork for this blueprint to end hunger by 2030 in the Commonwealth.
“Ending hunger is both a bipartisan and bicameral effort. We are collectively filing bills that include policies from managing food waste, to providing infrastructure for our farmers,” said State Senator Jo Comerford. “The real ingredient in the statehouse is you. Advocates, admin officials, folks across the Commonwealth need to join and bring a legislative call to action. When we feel the charge coming from constituents, it helps galvanize us. I believe we can create a virtuous cycle where the people in Massachusetts get healthier because there’s no food insecurity to take us down.”
“It’s not just a humanitarian effort – the fiscal benefit of ending hunger is something we should talk about more,” said State Representative Hannah Kane. “Where will we find the money to alleviate hunger? It’s in the savings. We need to be united in doing this work, and we need to present a strategic plan that eliminates hunger, tackles diet-related disease, strengthens our food system—encouraging legislative leadership to see the issue in totality.”
GBFB’s own research revealed that 84% of respondents were worried about being able to afford enough food if the increased SNAP benefits were to stop and 47% of respondents report having to visit food pantries less often due to increased SNAP benefits during the pandemic.
“We’re really worried about the potential for the end of COVID-era SNAP benefits to push people over a ‘hunger cliff,” driving thousands into the emergency food system,” said GBFB President and CEO Catherine D’Amato. “While we maintain high levels of demand, the cost of essentials like eggs – which more than doubled in the past year – impacts our buying power and inventory. We fear this is the third wave in a three-year ongoing crisis. The size of our state and the collective will to end hunger makes us capable of doing so – but it’s something we must all tackle together.”
The event was sponsored by State House News Service, The Greater Boston Food Bank, The Castle Group, Brian Hickey Associates, Charles Stefanini Consulting Group, Project Bread, Instacart, Teddie Peanut Butter, UMass Chan Medical School, and Catholic Charities of Boston with support from About Fresh, Children’s Health Watch, Community Servings, Daily Table, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Food Bank of Western MA, MA Food System Collaborative, Mass General Brigham, Mass Law Reform Institute, Stone Soup Café, and Worcester County Food Bank.
About The Greater Boston Food Bank
The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. As the food bank for Eastern Massachusetts, GBFB is feeding people in 190 towns across the region, distributing the equivalent of nearly 90 million meals through a network of 600 dedicated food distribution partners and programs. A member of the national Feeding America network, GBFB’s mission is to end hunger here. The organization remains committed to the belief that access to healthy food is a human right regardless of an individual’s circumstances. Through policy, partnerships, and providing free, nutritious, and culturally responsive food, GBFB is committed to addressing the root causes of food insecurity while promoting racial, gender and economic equity in food access. For more information and to help us help others, visit us at GBFB.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@gr8bosfoodbank) and Instagram, or call us at 617.427.5200.
VP, Communications and Public Affairs