SNAP System Leaves Recipients Hungry for Change

The system of food stamp benefits available in Massachusetts is known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Lately, this system has been coming under fire as it has proven inadequate to meet the basic needs of poorer and elderly residents in the state.

An Increasingly Bitter Cause Of Controversy

While the system of food stamp benefits has always been the center of much controversy, particularly among more conservative politicians and voters in the state, the basic system that governs food stamps eligibility is also beginning to become the focus of increasingly bitter and partisan attention.

The delivery of food stamps in the state of Massachusetts has been interrupted or halted altogether on more than one occasion, and the lack of proper supervision of the state’s SNAP and EBT programs has caused recrimination and the “blame game” to ensue. Meanwhile, many individuals and families are having to tighten their belts even further, as food stamps and other forms of assistance become increasingly more scarce. Many families are going without assistance of any kind.

Unwarranted Reductions Are Causing Hardship

SNAP food stamps

Food Drive employees help a food stamp recipient pick out items.

There have been seemingly unwarranted reductions and interruptions of service that are causing severe hardship for families and individuals dependent on these benefits throughout the state. The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) is bearing the brunt of criticism as a result of its decision to make severe, and in the eyes of some, completely reckless revisions in its processing policy. For example there have been issues with the new computer program’s filtering applications and the phone system that was designed to accommodate 6,000 each day was overwhelmed receiving roughly 20,000 calls per day. In addition, staffing decisions were made to support phone service and document processing rather than increasing the number of client caseworkers.

These policies govern the fate of those who receive food stamps from the DTA, causing many to be considered “unqualified” who would have been routinely accepted prior to the implementation of these reforms. Also, the failure on the part of the DTA to process client claims in the the designated 30 day window has caused claims to be closed automatically leaving those in need of benefits without any. Their only recourse is to spend hours on the phone being transferred from person to person only to receive insufficient answers and wait for a failed system to fix itself. As a result, the process of food stamp renewal for those who have been on the program for an extended period of time is also adversely affected.

The Race Is On To Reverse The Damage

As things stand, the race is now on to reverse the effects of these ill considered reforms. The hope is that the much needed revisions can be made to fix the basic SNAP system before it proves to be irrevocably broken. However, due to the mountains of red tape that the system has accumulated over the years, it may be sometime before relief reaches the families that the snafu has inconvenienced or even endangered.