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688 Action Items Found
Develop contacts, resources, and incentives that facilitate the purchase of local food and agricultural products by retail and wholesale food buyers, restaurants, and shoppers.
Provide seasonality education targeted for both retail-level produce and seafood buyers and consumers.
Provide training for consumers and chefs on use and sourcing of seasonal produce and seafood.
Expand the State’s culinary tourism and agritourism programs to draw visitors to farms and businesses that feature locally grown and produced products, such as dairies, wineries, distilleries, cider producers, agricultural events, festivals, and restaurants that feature local products.
Develop educational materials to improve public understanding about how food is produced and the costs of production as related to retail prices.
Develop consumer educational materials about nutritional value of frozen, canned, dried, and otherwise preserved foods.
Expand nutrition education available through the UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program and UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences’ Department of Nutrition with regard to consuming, cooking, food preservation, and nutritional properties of local and cultural foods.
Food Access, Security and Health 1.1.1
Maintain the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and review its expansion, as well as the enactment of similar tax credits and household supportive subsidies (i.e. assistance for child care from the Department of Early Education and Care) that will increase the proportions of household incomes that are available for groceries and other necessities.
Food Access, Security and Health 1.2.1
Support the adoption of a living wage standard for Massachusetts workers, with exceptions for time-limited youth training on production farms and associated retail operations.
Food Access, Security and Health 1.2.2
Support and expand workforce education, training, and certification opportunities for food system workers. Begin by examining the opportunities to expand education, training and certifications for jobs within the food system, as well as those in closely related fields, including healthcare.
Food Access, Security and Health 1.2.3
Expand the number of organizations and community partners involved in job training.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.1.1
DTA should review the terminations and denials of all SNAP benefits, and where determined eligible, permit or restore benefits as soon as possible. This would not apply in cases where SNAP benefits were terminated because applicant’s income exceeded the eligibility thresholds.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.1.2
Ensure adequate funding to hire DTA staff for the timely, efficient, and reliable processing of SNAP applications and renewals. The DTA should renew their focus on assisting clients, particularly elders, people with disabilities, and applicants with limited English proficiency, in securing required documentation and verification.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.1.3
Identify and implement best practices for SNAP administration that have been developed in other states, through research and working with the USDA. In particular, improve the existing Virtual Gateway and Beacon systems, to prevent automatic terminations or denials where submitted documents are not reviewed by DTA staff. Ensure DTA staff is trained to facilitate a streamlined application process.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.1.4
Implement federal options to reduce SNAP application barriers for low-income, seniors, and elder populations. Pursue an Elder Simplified Application Pilot (ESAP) to eliminate verification and interview requirements for seniors. Expand the Bay State Combined Application pilot to reach low income elder and disabled Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. Consider allowing community partners to conduct client interviews.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.2.1
Develop, test, and deploy a common application portal, either as improvement to the existing Virtual Gateway or new system, to enable people to apply for SNAP when applying for or renewing MassHealth membership.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.2.2
Explore use of a common application portal for other federal and state benefit programs including the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Income Eligible Child Care; housing assistance benefits; and Cash Assistance benefits to ensure families seeking these benefits are offered simultaneous applications for SNAP and health care programs. Encourage inter-agency referrals under existing programs as an interim measure until a new and improved system is in place.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.3.1
Collaborate with DTA and agencies that assist seniors and persons with disabilities in claiming and verifying un-reimbursed, eligible medical and transportation expenses.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.3.2
Collaborate with the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) to identify low-income working families who may qualify for SNAP. Assist them with applications, and ensure that families claim all eligible child care, after-school, and transportation expenses.
Food Access, Security and Health 2.3.3
Produce client-friendly SNAP outreach educational materials that are ADA-accessible and multi-lingual to highlight all eligible income deductions.