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Shapiro Administration Joins Second Lady, Anti-Hunger Advocates to Remind Pennsylvanians of Major Federal Changes to SNAP Benefits, Urge Support for Charitable Food Network

03/16/2023

Pittsburgh, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Val Arkoosh today joined Second Lady of Pennsylvania Blayre Holmes Davis and leadership from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to highlight significant federal changes to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that will result in a reduction of benefits for all SNAP recipients this month.

Acting Secretary Arkoosh addressed the recent changes to SNAP and additional resources that can help Pennsylvanians affected by this change, and Second Lady Holmes Davis also highlighted how important it is for Pennsylvanians to support their local food banks and pantries as the statewide system works to fill the void left by the loss in benefits.

To help mitigate some of the impact of the federal decreases in SNAP benefits and to help Pennsylvanians facing food insecurity, Governor Shapiro's proposed budget is seeking to increase the minimum SNAP benefit by 50 percent for seniors and people with disabilities – two groups most helped by SNAP — representing a $16 million investment. Additionally, the budget also proposes continuing to provide a free breakfast for every child in Pennsylvania's public schools — a vital investment in children's health and ability to learn.

"Our ability to feed ourselves and access healthy, nutritious foods is essential to our daily health and emotional wellbeing. Simply put, we cannot learn, work, or care for others if we do not have enough to eat. I am deeply concerned about the impact this change will have on people in all counties and communities of the Commonwealth," said Acting Secretary Arkoosh. "As Pennsylvanians begin to go without this additional SNAP payment, we must be sure that everyone knows 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."

"Every day Pennsylvanians work hard to put food on the table for their families, but the pandemic and resulting economic crisis hit many folks hard," said Second Lady Holmes Davis. "We came together as a Commonwealth to take care of one another, through expanded food assistance and nonprofit organizations, like the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Since March 2020, Pennsylvania's food banks have provided more than 680 million pounds of food to our friends and neighbors across the Commonwealth. Now we need to come together once again to support our fellow Pennsylvanians through this transition."

"The loss of SNAP benefits comes at a time when heating bills, inflation and food costs are creating a real hardship for families. This change will exacerbate the already existing strain on food banks, but we are confident in our ability to meet the need and support our neighbors facing hunger. Our hope is that families turn to us for support instead of sacrificing meals to pay for other household expenses," said Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank President and CEO, Lisa Scales.

The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which was passed and signed into law in December, ends a pandemic-era response policy that provided recipients with an additional SNAP payment every month since early 2020. These payments, known as Emergency Allotments (EAs), brought SNAP households to the maximum monthly benefit for their household size or – if the household was already at its maximum — was $95, whichever is greater.

February was the final month that EAs were authorized to be sent; SNAP recipients will return to receiving just one SNAP payment per month in March and moving forward. As a result of that federal action, all SNAP households will lose a minimum of $95 a month in benefits, 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.

With the additional benefits now over, 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 with an average of 581,000 people each week.

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:

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.

Contact: Brandon Cwalina, ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov

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