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Men Who are Residents of Shelters for Battered Women and Children Policy Clarification Memo

EO Guidance Document #
Resource type
Policy Memos
Guidance Documents
DATE: December 18, 2014
SUBJECT: Men Who Are Residents of Shelters for Battered Women and Children
TO: All Regional Directors
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

This memorandum is intended to clarify Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) policy regarding men who are victims of domestic violence residing in shelters for battered women and children, which will henceforth be referred to as shelters for battered persons. Both the Food and Nutrition Act of2008, as amended (the Act), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) regulations allow certain flexibilities for victims of domestic violence who are fleeing their abuser. These include:

  • Section 3(n)(5) of the Act: Conferring separate household status to temporary residents of shelters for battered persons;
  • Section 3(k) of the Act: Allowing those residents to use their SNAP benefits to purchase food from the shelter; and
  • 7 CFR 273.3(a): Allowing duplicate participation of an individual who is a resident of a shelter for battered persons, and was a member of a household containing the person who had abused him or her.

Although some of the language in the Act and regulations is not gender neutral, language in other provisions is gender neutral. The specific language of the Act refers to "temporary residents" of shelters, which conveys that the flexibilities are not limited to one gender or sex. The provisions containing gender neutral language would be overly narrowed in scope if they were interpreted to only refer to women. Furthermore, were these flexibilities restricted to only women and children, SNAP rules regarding children living with their parents would prevent a child residing in a shelter with her/his father from receiving benefits.

In consideration of these issues, FNS finds that all provisions related to persons fleeing domestic violence shall be interpreted to apply to all victims of domestic violence, regardless of gender or sex.

Lizbeth Silbermann
Program Development Division

Page updated: January 11, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.