Mass. Joins Conn., Vt. In End-Run Around Food Stamp Cuts

Massachusetts says it will join seven other states and the District of Columbia in making an end-run around food stamp cuts.

The federal farm bill would have reduced food stamps for 163,000 households in Massachusetts, costing them about $80-a-month.

“For many of the families, $80-a-month has a real impact,” says state Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz. “Without that 80, it’s a much different equation.”

Under the old farm bill, states were able to give low income households just $1-a-year in heating assistance to qualify them for more food stamp benefits. The new farm bill raises the threshold to $20-a-year.

The idea was that states would decide it was too expensive to qualify their residents for food aid and save the feds some money. But that’s not happening in some states, including Connecticut, Vermont – and now – Massachusetts.

Governor Deval Patrick’s administration says it will spend the additional $3 million in state money to prevent what would have been a $142 million cut in federal benefits.