Save SNAP!

Next Friday, April 24, hundreds of people from Worcester and other cities and towns around Eastern Massachusetts will be boarding MBTA commuter rail and subway trains to rallies in Boston.

Once there, they will present stacks of petitions to our US Senators and Representatives, calling on them to fight to stop more cuts to SNAP/Food Stamps, and to bring the demand to our State Legislators and administrators to –  in the words of organizer Chris Horton – “clean up what they are experiencing as a severely dysfunctional SNAP/Food Stamps program.”

Many of those going to these rallies can rarely if ever afford the $26 cost of round trip to Boston by train and subway, but will be taking advantage of the MBTA management’s declaration that rides will be free all day on April 24.  (Rally organizers have been debating whether to call it “Free Ride Day!” or “No Fare Day!”) 

SNAP/Food Stamp recipients and their family members have been struggling with a new computerized Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) SNAP/Food Stamps application and review system that has arbitrarily forced nearly 10% of Massachusetts recipients off the rolls since last July and has denied benefits to unknown thousands of eligible new applicants.

Horton reports that “many respond with outrage when they hear that Congress has passed a Farm Bill that imposes a major new round of cuts in food benefits on top of last year’s cuts that were supposed to be part of a five-year agreement. Most sign the petition to Congress without hesitation.”

Horton tells of several, including one who said he was 34 years old, telling him this is the first time they’ve ever signed a petition!

Social service agency heads, providers and volunteers who work on finding and providing food for the needy have been struggling with finding enough to keep the food pantries stocked, and some have confided that they’ve had to give up working on other programs to concentrate on helping people struggling with the DTA over denial of benefits.

The April 24 action, called by the Worcester Unemployment Action Group and endorsed by the Worcester Community Labor Coalition and the Communities United Collective, will begin with a rally in front of Worcester’s Union Station on Washington Square at 10 am.  

Former Worcester Mayor and aide to Congressman Jim McGovern Joe O’Brien will address the rally, listen to the stories of participants and accept a copy of the signed petitions on behalf of the Congressman.

The participants will board the train before it’s 10:45 departure and travel together for a 1 pm rally and forum in front of the Mass. State House at 24 Beacon St demanding action to fix the Mass SNAP/Food Stamps application and review program.

At 2 pm they will march to the JFK Federal Building to present copies of the Stop the Cuts petitions to US Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren.  Some will return to Worcester together on the 4:05 train from South Station, while no doubt others will stay on in Boston to enjoy this rare opportunity to get to the Big City.