Food Assistance for Immigrants

The immigrant population is growing in Massachusetts and there is an increasing need to provide food assistance to those who do not have the resources to make ends meet.

The population of Massachusetts grew by 7.4% to more than 7 million from 2010 to 2020, making it the 15th most populous state in the nation.

Most of the growth occurred in the Boston metropolitan area, according to the U.S. Census result.

How the Massachusetts population is composed

Some aspects to highlight regarding the characteristics of the Massachusetts population in the last decade are:

  • The most representative races are White 70%, Hispanic 12%, African American and Asian 7%, and other races round out the remaining 11%.
  • The white population, not including Hispanics or Latinos, declined about 9% in the last 10 years.
  • The multiracial population is predominantly mixed White and Hispanic at 12.5%.

Compared to New York City, which is home to 66% of Latinos, 19.5% of Massachusetts Latinos live in Boston.

Statewide, Puerto Ricans represent 40% of Latinos in Massachusetts and Dominicans 19%, and have the highest poverty rates among Latinos in the state, at 32% and 25%, respectively.

Facts to consider for the Hispanic population in Boston:

  • Nearly half of Latinos in Boston are foreign born (43%).
  • Boston has the largest total number of Latino residents with just over 130,000.
  • Latinos in Boston make up 19.5% of all Latinos in the state, comprised of Puerto Ricans (28%), Dominicans (24%), Salvadorans (11%), Colombians (6%) and Mexicans (6%).

Employment Status of Latinos in Massachusetts

In terms of employment status, Latinos in Massachusetts have higher labor force participation rates than the rest of the population.

Puerto Ricans make up the largest segment of the Latino working-age population, but have the lowest levels of labor force participation.

Overall, while most Massachusetts students outperform their peers in other states, Latinos score lower compared to other states.

These low levels of postsecondary attainment among the most representative Latino groups are a major challenge in the community because they may limit the types of jobs that individuals in those groups are able to obtain and the wages they can earn.

Challenges for Latinos in the Labor Market

Among Latinos who are employed in Massachusetts, 31% work in services and 18% work in sales and office and one in five Latinos work in production, according to Boston Indicators in its most recent report Persistent Economic Challenges and Opportunities Facing Latinos and Massachusetts.

Latinos are also less likely to work in management or professional jobs that require higher levels of educational attainment.

Labor market outcomes for Latinos are also related to English language proficiency, family structure, and access to child care.

Having low English language proficiency can present a substantial barrier to higher paying jobs, lack of access to child care can reduce labor force participation or the ability to seek competitive wage jobs.

Project Bread: Food Assistance for Immigrants

Project Bread has a specific immigrant food assistance program to meet the food assistance needs of Latinos in Massachusetts.

If you are not a U.S. citizen you may qualify for SNAP, including those who have worked in the U.S. for a certain period of time or have come to the U.S. with a particular immigration status.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to low-income individuals and families through a card that can be used like a debit card to purchase food at authorized retail stores.


  • U.S.-born children and those with lawful permanent resident status can receive benefits even if their parents do not have documentation.
  • Non-immigrants (those on student, visitor, or diplomatic visas) are not eligible for SNAP benefits, but may apply for other eligible household members. Even if you do not meet the immigration status for SNAP.

Rights of Immigrant Applicants

The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) is required to provide you with an interpreter.

If you do not want to give information about your immigration status, you can tell your DTA caseworker that you cannot give that information. Your caseworker will stop asking you questions about your immigration status.

For more information, call Project Bread’s FoodSource Helpline at 1-800-645-8333.

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