Self-service nutrition kiosk comes to the Vineyard

La'Shunda McQueen gives step by step instructions on how to use the self-service nutrition kiosk. — Lucas Thors

Employees of the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) visited Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) on Monday to install a brand new nutrition assistance self-service kiosk.

The kiosk, which is part of a pilot program being conducted by the DTA, will streamline the process for eligible Islanders to apply for and receive nutrition assistance benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Health Incentives Program (HIP).

Located in the Island Wide Youth Collaborative building, the kiosk allows prospective clients to apply for monthly benefits to buy nutritious foods from various markets and farm stands around the Island.

The kiosk enables clients who might not have regular access to a computer or fax machine to submit their application and verification documents to the DTA for review.

Those who wish to register for SNAP benefits can apply online at the kiosk, and will be given a survey to determine if they qualify for benefits.

Questions about a prospective client’s household, expenses, and income are necessary to determine the income level and citizen status (only low-income citizens or legal noncitizens can receive SNAP benefits).

After providing accurate contact information and submitting an application, the DTA will contact the applicant within the next five days to conduct an interview. The interview will provide a more in depth assessment of the necessary nutrition benefits that will fit a particular household, if any.

Following the phone interview, the DTA will produce a list of required documents for the applicant to send in, in order to verify eligibility.

Within 30 days of the DTA receiving verification documents, the applicant will either be granted SNAP benefits, or denied based on the materials provided.

If an applicant is approved, an Electronic Benefits Transfer card (a debit card for groceries) will be issued and sent out. Benefits will be added to the card on a monthly basis.

Those who have an existing account can manage their SNAP benefits balance within the portal, and can recertify their benefits as necessary.

The kiosk also allows clients to request a voluntary stop of benefits at any point, meaning they will no longer receive SNAP funds.