PENNSYLVANIA — The federal changes to SNAP have caused Governor Josh Shapiro and Acting DHS Secretary Val Arkoosh to team up with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) in order to provide additional assistance for Pennsylvanians experiencing food insecurity. With the introduction of new funds from state investments, Pennsylvania is taking multiple steps to ensure that residents are able to access necessary resources that had been formerly provided in the form of monthly emergency allotments. Both officials emphasized their commitment to alleviate hunger and food insecurity in the state by working with local partners so that living expenses can be provided for those impacted by cut benefits.
Governor Shapiro is also highlighting a proposal from his 2023-24 budget that will increase the minimum SNAP benefit by 50 percent – a state investment of $16 million that will help seniors and people with disabilities keep food on their tables. Additionally, the proposed 2023-24 Commonwealth Budget seeks to continue universal school breakfasts, an investment in children’s ability to learn and access to food for working families in all communities.
“As I’ve crisscrossed the Commonwealth, I’ve met families from all different walks of life. But no matter where they come from, I heard a lot of the same concerns: folks are worried about rising costs and feeding their families,” said Governor Shapiro. “I’ve listened to your stories, and I’ve heard your concerns, and I’m directing my Administration to do everything in our power to offer relief and help you and your family to put food on the table, stay safe, and stay healthy.”
“Our ability to feed ourselves and access healthy, nutritious foods is essential to our daily health and emotional wellbeing, and Governor Shapiro and I are deeply concerned about the impact this change will have on people throughout the Commonwealth,” said Acting DHS Secretary Arkoosh. “Everyone should know that resources are available from the state and from our heroic partners in the charitable food network to help offset this impact. You do not have to go through this change alone – please use these resources to protect yourself and your family.”
What is Changing
Due to passage of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, starting in March, SNAP recipient households will no longer receive the EAs additional payment created during the COVID-19 public health emergency and will resume receiving one SNAP payment per month.
With funds made available due to the federal COVID-19 emergency, DHS began providing EAs as a second monthly payment to SNAP recipient households that were receiving benefits since March 2020. The EAs increased the SNAP budget amount to the maximum available amount for their household size or, since early 2021, were a minimum of $95. These payments were distributed separate from the initial payment as an extra payment each month.
Due to federal legislation, February 2023 was the last month EAs were sent; and starting in March, SNAP recipients will only receive one regular SNAP payment. The elimination of this extra payment impacts all SNAP recipients – more than 1.9 million people from all counties and communities in the Commonwealth.
SNAP is a federally-funded program; however, in light of these federal changes, Governor Shapiro recognized the need to grow Pennsylvania’s base investment in food security for seniors and people with disabilities.
The Governor’s proposed budget will increase the minimum monthly SNAP benefit for seniors and people with disabilities to $35 each month – a $16 million investment of state dollars that will provide additional support as federal pandemic SNAP benefits end. Based on December 2022 data, this increase will reach more than 105,000 people.
Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget will also continue universal free breakfast for all Pennsylvania students, continuing a pandemic flexibility that makes a healthy, nutritious breakfast available to all students. A good breakfast gives students the daily foundation they need to take on their day feeling physically and mentally nourished and prepared, and free breakfasts for all students eliminates the unnecessary stigma that children can feel if they need to eat breakfast at school in the morning. Under the Governor’s proposed budget, this resource is available for all students, and all families can benefit from this investment in children’s nutrition, health, and learning.
The administration also stands ready to work alongside the legislative branch to identify additional resources to provide more relief.
Food Assistance Resources Available
- 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.comOpens In A New Window;
- You can call 211 or visit www.pa211.orgOpens In A New Window to connect with various local food resources;
- Visit www.feedingpa.orgOpens In A New Window to find local food banks and other food assistance programs;
- Go to www.dhs.pa.gov/ending-hunger and www.agriculture.pa.gov/food_security 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.
- Additional resources can be found at www.dhs.pa.gov/SNAPCares.
While SNAP benefits are being reduced, they are not being eliminated. Anybody who already receives SNAP should reach out to DHS and update their information to ensure they are receiving the maximum SNAP benefit they are entitled to, and anybody who is struggling to afford food or anybody who may just need some extra help should also reach out to DHS and apply for SNAP.
Pennsylvanians who need to report changes to their household size, income, or expenses are encouraged to report any changes to DHS either online at www.dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS, via the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling DHS’s 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 off their individual circumstances.
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