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Food Security

MPU believes that children deserve to wake up in the morning without concern regarding where their next meal may come from.

In Massachusetts, 1 in 7 children live in a food insecure household where they do not have food regularly accessible to them at home. MPU stands behind supporting every family so that no child goes hungry.


SNAP Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, offers food assistance to eligible, low-income families.

To get SNAP benefits, individuals must apply through the State of Massachusetts at SNAP rules require that individuals are at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Level in order to be eligible to receive benefits. Families or individuals who are eligible are often working for low wages, working part-time, unemployed, elderly, or disabled.

When individuals are determined eligible for SNAP benefits, we receive an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card where money will be automatically loaded every month. The EBT card can only be used for food items, and sales tax will not be charged.

The amount of money individuals will receive monthly will depend on the combined household income and household size. For example, a household that brings in $1,200 every month and has 2 household members will receive about $200 in SNAP benefits every month.

Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for SNAP benefits unless they live in a household with someone who is eligible. It is not uncommon for undocumented parents to apply for assistance on behalf of their children who are citizens. Documented immigrants can only receive SNAP benefits if they have resided within the United States for at least five years.


  • In Massachusetts, about 764,000 residents, or 1 in 9 people, receive SNAP benefits.

  • More than 56% of SNAP recipients are families with children, and 46% of recipients are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities. More than 34% of recipients are in working families.

  • The average food stamp amount a Massachusetts family receives is $126 per month, or $1.38 per person per meal.



WIC Benefits

WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). This program provides federal money to help families with extra food, health care, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant women and children who are found to be at nutritional risk. Applicants must be seen by a doctor who will decide if we are at nutrition risk and if we qualify for WIC. Children are eligible to receive WIC benefits up until their 5th birthday.


There are times where the number of people who need WIC benefits exceeds available funding. At this time, we may be placed on a waiting list based on a priority system that determines who gets WIC benefits based on need. WIC is a short-term program. Depending on the situation an eligible individual usually receives WIC benefits from 6 months to a year, then they must reapply.

All women and children who qualify are able to use WIC programs regardless of immigration status.


  • WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, a program that provides low-income women and children with extra food, healthcare and nutritional education.

  • Out of 15 million eligible WIC participants, only about 8 million use the services.  

  • Total enrollment for WIC programs is composed of: 25% infants (age 0-1), 25% women, 50% children (up to age 5).

  • In 2015, WIC helped eligible mothers and children across the United States where 63% were hispanic, 57% were black, and 42% were white.


Food Deserts

Food Deserts

Food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food that would allow for a healthy and active life. Food security does not exist in isolation. Low-income families are often affected by multiple issues like: affordable housing, health problems, medical costs, and low wages. When families don’t have enough resources to meet basic needs, a family’s risk of food insecurity increases.

A food desert is an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. 40% of Massachusetts is classified as a food desert, where 2.8 million people living in low income areas across the state lack access to grocery stores.

Top Massachusetts Cities with the most significant Grocery Gap: Chelsea, Springfield, Taunton, Everett, Revere, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Brockton, and Chicopee.


  • In 2016, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure, equating to 42 million Americans including 13 million children.

  • In Massachusetts: There are nearly 266,500 food insecure households (about 10%), and approximately 123,615 of these households face very-low food security.

  • 1 out of 5 of all low-income Americans do not purchase any fresh fruits or vegetables

  • 62% of shoppers say it costs too much to eat healthy food.



School Breakfast

Breakfast After the Bell is a program to ensure children in high-poverty schools have a healthy meal in the morning. The program serves free breakfast to all students during classroom time, rather than before the start of the school day, allowing for parents and students to have a less stressful time getting kids to school early.


Studies show that hungry kids experience trouble concentrating, have lower academic achievement, more behavioral problems, and visit the nurse more often.


Schools that are considered high-poverty are eligible to implement the Breakfast After the Bell program, making breakfast free to all students. It is the school’s choice whether they implement Breakfast After the Bell or not. Breakfast After the Bell only takes about 15-20 minutes. Teachers are able to use the time that children are eating to take attendance, assign a worksheet, or do a warm up activity to get students ready for the day.


Schools that implement Breakfast After the Bell receive reimbursement money from the federal government for every breakfast meal served. Many schools find the Breakfast After the Bell increases the budget for the school’s Nutrition Department.


  • In Massachusetts, 1 in 7 kids lives in a food insecure household. This means that 1 in 7 kids may not have food accessible to them at home.

  • Only 53% of low income students in Massachusetts participate in getting breakfast at school, leaving nearly half of students who do not.

  • Out of Massachusetts’ 638 high poverty schools, only 215 schools use Breakfast After the Bell programs - leaving 423 schools that do not.

  • All breakfast meals served in the classroom qualify for federal reimbursement money. If all high poverty schools implemented Breakfast After the Bell, Massachusetts schools could receive over $30 million in reimbursements money across the state.


School Guides

School Guides

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