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Shapiro Administration Reminds Older Adults Assistance is Available After Major Federal Changes to SNAP Benefits

03/21/2023

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) today reminded older adults facing a reduction in their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that help with meals and other food assistance programs is available.

The changes come after federal action in December that impacts more than 1.9 million Pennsylvania SNAP recipients, many of whom are older adults. That's why in his first budget, Governor Josh Shapiro is proposing a $16 million investment to increase the minimum SNAP benefit amount by 50%, with the understanding that every dollar counts when it comes to ensuring someone's access to nutritious, healthy foods.

"A reduction in funds shouldn't mean a reduction in access to good nutritional resources for our older adults. No one should have to choose between paying for medication, rent or mortgage, and food," said Acting Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich. "We want older Pennsylvanians to know that the Department of Aging and our aging network are here to assist them in getting the healthy foods necessary to age in place for as long as they are able. Our Senior Community Centers provide great nutritious meals, and if an older adult is uncomfortable being in a congregate setting, there are grab-and-go meal options for them to take home and eat."

The Commonwealth's 485 Senior Community Centers provide nutritious lunchtime meals in a congregate setting to older adults. Many centers offer grab-and-go meals and will continue this service as the reduction in SNAP benefits begins. The 52 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) can also connect older adults to meal resources at the local level, including in-home meal delivery.

Since the pandemic started in 2020, SNAP recipients have been receiving an additional payment in the second half of the month known as an Emergency Allotment (EA). The EA ended at the end of February; and starting March 1, SNAP recipients are now only receiving their one regular payment.

PDA also wants older adults to know of the additional food assistance programs that are available:

  • The department's PACE prescription assistance program can help older adults in applying for the Senior Food Box Program, which provides eligible seniors with nutritious, shelf-stable groceries each month. PACE can complete the application and submit it directly to the Department of Agriculture. PACE can also assist with connecting seniors to local food pantries and meal assistance. The PACE hotline can be reached at 800-424-4356.
  • The PA LINK can connect seniors with meal support, benefits programs, and other help with activities of daily living. The number is 800-753-8827.
  • Call 211 or visit www.211pa.org to connect with various local food resources or to locate a local AAA.
  • Starting June 1 every year, the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program provides eligible adults over age 60 with vouchers that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at more than 800 farm stands and more than 200 farmers' markets in Pennsylvania. Older adults can contact their local AAA for when and how to get their vouchers. The voucher dollar amount will increase from $24 to $50 for 2023 and 2024.
  • Some Medicare Advantage Plans and Special Needs Plans offer grocery benefits, food boxes, and home-delivered meals as a plan bonus. Older adults who are enrolled in either of these plans should inquire with their plan to see if they can receive these added benefits.
  • Visit the Department of Agriculture's website to learn more about nutritional programs for older adults.

Learn more about the programs and services offered through the Department of Aging by visiting PDA's website or the department's Facebook page

MEDIA CONTACT: Jack Eilber, agingcomms@pa.gov

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