Expanded access to food assistance could benefit 420,000 additional Pennsylvanians


PITTSBURGH– Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Acting Secretary Meg Snead joined anti-hunger advocates from Just Harvest at the City of Pittsburgh’s North Side Farmers Market today to highlight updates to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, that expanded eligibility for Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance.  

Effective October 1, Pennsylvania increased the income threshold for all applicants to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG). With this change, more than 420,000 additional Pennsylvanians and more than 174,000 households will be newly eligible for SNAP and will receive, on average, $63 a month to help pay for groceries like fresh produce, meats, dairy, and other groceries.

“Being able to eat and nourish yourself every day is one of the most essential building blocks to living well and doing everything else in life. It’s easy to take for granted, but for too many people, being able to afford your next meal isn’t a given. SNAP helps to make that possible,” said Snead. “Expanding eligibility for SNAP allows us to extend a reprieve to people who may be struggling so we can help more Pennsylvanians meet this most essential need that literally fuels us to live, work, grow, and thrive, and I strongly encourage Pennsylvanians not currently using this program to apply and see if SNAP can help them make a little extra room in their monthly budget.” 

“For years, we’ve gotten calls on a daily basis from folks who are hoping to qualify for SNAP but don’t. They include parents who are trying to feed their kids, people who are struggling between skyrocketing rents and rising food prices. Often they’re just a few dollars over the limit, so we’re thrilled that the Wolf Administration found a way to allow more of these households qualify for some help,” said Ann Sanders, Public Policy Advocate for Just Harvest.

DHS is able to expand SNAP eligibility through Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) for the program. While SNAP is a federal program and SNAP benefits are funded through the federal budget, states administer eligibility and issuance of benefits. BBCE is a policy that gives states, including Pennsylvania, the flexibility to determine appropriate income thresholds and extend SNAP benefits to low-income families and individuals who would otherwise struggle to afford food. DHS currently uses BBCE flexibility to set income thresholds to 160 percent of the FPIG for households that do not have elderly or disabled members. 

With this change, the household monthly income limits for all households to be eligible for SNAP are as follows: 

Household Size200 % FPIG
Each additional member$788

According to Feeding Pennsylvania, more than 2 million Pennsylvanians experience chronic hunger and food insecurity every day, including one in seven children. Programs like SNAP and charitable food networks around the commonwealth help working adults, people with disabilities, older adults, and children access food and expand their purchasing power so they do not have to choose between paying for a doctor’s appointment or being able to eat dinner. Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased health care costs.  

SNAP helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians by providing money each month to spend on groceries, helping households have resources to purchase enough food to avoid going hungry. SNAP is our country’s most important and most impactful anti-hunger program. For every meal provided by a Feeding Pennsylvania food bank, SNAP provides nine. 

SNAP is accepted at grocery stores, food retailers, and certain farmers markets across Pennsylvania, including at North Side Farmers Market and 14 other farmers markets around the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. These partnerships directly support businesses and retailers in Pennsylvania to help lower income and working adults and families access fresh, nutritious, and locally-sourced foods. For more information about farmers markets running throughout the year that accept SNAP in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, click here.  

Applications for SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. SNAP and Medicaid applications are accepted by phone by calling the Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355. On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia clients or 1-877-395-8930 for clients in all other counties.

For additional information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.  

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