PENNSYLVANIA — Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Val Arkoosh and Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary for Strategic Initiatives and Market Development Cheryl Cook yesterday joined leadership from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Feeding Pennsylvania to highlight upcoming, significant federal changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that will take effect starting March 1, 2023. They also discussed how important it is for Pennsylvanians to support their local food banks and pantries as the statewide systems works to help people affected by this change.
The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which was passed and signed into law in December, ends a pandemic-era response policy that has provided recipients with an additional SNAP payment every month since early 2020. These payments, known as Emergency Allotments (EAs), bring SNAP households to the maximum monthly benefit for their household size or – if the household is already at its maximum – are $95, whichever is greater.
February is the final month that EAs are authorized to be sent. All SNAP households will lose a minimum of $95 a month in SNAP benefits starting in March, with a statewide average impact of $181 per household. Additionally, a recent change to Social Security Income following the 2023 cost of living adjustment will cause some seniors and people with disabilities to experience, on average, a further $40 decrease in monthly benefits once EAs end.
“As a physician, I’ve seen the close relationship between a person’s diet and health. Reliable access to healthy foods and the inherent dignity that comes with knowing you can feed yourself and your family can make a difference on both a person’s physical and mental wellbeing,” said Acting Secretary Arkoosh. “If you are having trouble purchasing food for yourself or your family and are worried about what to do or where to go when this extra payment ends, there are resources that can help.”
When these additional benefits end, Pennsylvania’s charitable food network will be called to step up its fight against hunger in communities across the Commonwealth. Food banks in Pennsylvania typically serve approximately 2.2 million people annually, but since the pandemic began in March 2020, these food banks have served more than 684.2 million pounds of food to more than 83.7 million duplicated individuals and an average of 581,000 people each week.
“The charitable food network has provided an extraordinary service since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be as helpful as possible as the impacts of these changes to SNAP benefits affect Pennsylvanians. However, food banks and pantries are the last line of defense against hunger, not a replacement for SNAP,” said Deputy Secretary Cook. “For the charitable food network to better serve those who need more help as a result of SNAP benefit reductions, it is important for all who are able, to donate time, money, and food to help our regional food banks and local food pantries.”
Supporting local food banks and pantries through monetary donations, in-kind donations of needed food items, and volunteer time will help them continue their support through this change and make their heroic work possible.
Food Assistance Resources Available
The Shapiro Administration recognizes the impact these changes may have on households and wants to make sure families that need food assistance know where to go for help.
- SNAP recipients who are pregnant or have kids under 5 may be able to get help buying food from PA WIC. You can call 1-800-WIC-WINS or apply online at www.pawic.com;
- You can call 211 or visit www.pa211.org to connect with various local food resources;
- Visit www.feedingpa.org to find local food banks and other food assistance programs;
- Go to www.dhs.pa.gov/ending-hunger and www.agriculture.pa.gov/food_insecurity for information on assistance programs and other resources; and,
- If you are a SNAP-eligible senior citizen, the Senior Food Box Program can also provide you with additional shelf-stable groceries. Learn more about these programs from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Pennsylvanians who need to report changes to their household size, income, or expenses like housing, dependent care, and health care costs are encouraged to report any changes online at www.dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS, via the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling DHS’ Customer Service Center at 877-395-8930 (or 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia residents). This will help ensure households are receiving the maximum SNAP benefit based on their individual circumstances.
For more information about SNAP Emergency Allotments and food assistance resources available, visit dhs.pa.gov/SNAPcares.
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