My Visit to the State House

Mary O’Sullivan | Intern, Coalition to End Hunger

This summer I have been interning for The Coalition to End Hunger. I do social media posts for their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. I have had the honor of attending some of the coalition meetings and have met many on the team to #endmasshunger. Recently, I went to a hearing in Boston with Alan Dallmann to support a bill targeting the cliff effect. We saw Representative Aaron Vega (Holyoke) present support of a bill that will address the cliff effect. We heard testimonies from businesses, workforce development, and a person who has experienced the cliff effect herself.  It ended with a presentation of a spreadsheet to legislators that showed exactly how certain ‘raises’ can end up hurting people financially.  

My understanding of the cliff effect is that it prevents families across Massachusetts from escaping systemic poverty. People are rejecting promotions and/or higher pay because it may affect their access to resources such as SNAP benefits, heat assistance programs, day care vouchers, and cash assistance programs. It does not, however, affect their ability to access most food pantries. The cliff effect is preventing people from moving forward to financial independence. Higher pay may cut them off from these resources and could leave them worse off than they were with a lower wage. 

Towards the end of our visit to the state house we ran into State Representative Mindy Domb. She kindly gave us a tour of the state house. She brought us into the House Chamber and showed us where all the big decisions are made! She also showed us the ONLY portrait of women that is in the state house and we were both very disappointed by the way the photo portrayed women here in the state of Massachusetts. She is very proud and dedicated to changing the way women are portrayed and represented within our own state house.  

 It is an honor to have the opportunity to be involved with the Western Massachusetts Food Bank and The Coalition to End Hunger. I’ve learned so much about politics and systemic poverty here in the state of Massachusetts. It’s also an honor to intern for a nonprofit that spends every day helping people find food and additional resources in order to just get by.