Commonwealth Secures Agreement to Continue Issuing Emergency Food Assistance

children foodImage by Andreas Breitling

HARRISBURG, PA — Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead announced the Wolf Administration has reached an agreement with the Biden Administration that allows DHS to continue issuing about $150 million monthly in emergency food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to more than 1.8 million low-income Pennsylvanians, including many families with children, the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

“As the nation continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic and recover from its economic impacts, access to essential needs like food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks,” Acting Secretary Snead said. “SNAP helps Pennsylvanians purchase fresh food and groceries, allowing families with limited or strained resources to keep food on the table while meeting other bills and obligations. This emergency assistance has been life-sustaining for many Pennsylvania families, and I want to thank the Biden Administration for working with us to ensure this assistance continues to help people in need.”

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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) permitted states to extend emergency SNAP allotments to current SNAP recipients due to the ongoing COVID-19 and economic crises. Since March 2020, Pennsylvanians have received between $100 million and $150 million each month — nearly $2 billion total — in federally funded assistance beyond normal SNAP distributions. This agreement to continue emergency assistance was necessitated by the General Assembly’s recent action to terminate the governor’s disaster declaration.

SNAP’s critical role in helping low-income individuals and families goes beyond dollars to support Pennsylvanians in need. SNAP also supports businesses in the communities where recipients live and shop. According to research by the USDA, during an economic downturn, a $1 billion increase in SNAP benefits could increase Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by as much as $1.54 billion – stabilizing a critical segment of the economy and supporting approximately 13,560 jobs, including farmers and other agriculture workers.

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This study found that SNAP redemptions could have a greater economic stimulus impact than other forms of government spending per dollar spent, especially during a recession, because they are paid directly to low-income individuals and then spent through grocery stores, markets, and other small businesses across the commonwealth.

For more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the continued economic insecurity, visit www.agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity. 

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