Report: SNAP cuts will affect 1.8M Pennsylvanians this fall

The reduction is the equivalent of 21 meals lost each month for a Pennsylvania family of four, according to the study.
The reduction is the equivalent of 21 meals lost each month for a Pennsylvania family of four, according to the study.

Nearly 1.8 million Pennsylvanians will this November see cuts to their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The reduction is the equivalent of 21 meals lost each month for a Pennsylvania family of four, according to the study, which was co-released by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the Coalition Against Hunger, Just Harvest and Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

“This small increase in food assistance has been a lifeline for many Pennsylvanians, a majority of whom work but earn low wages,” said Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, in a statement.

“It has allowed many families to stay afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

The SNAP slashes, which will total $5 billion nationwide in fiscal year 2014 and $183 million in Pennsylvania alone, are a result of expiring American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that were temporarily pumped into SNAP to strengthen the economy in the wake of the recession.

A family of three will see their food assistance benefits reduced by an average of $29 a month, causing them to receive less than $1.40 per person per meal.

“This is the first time in the history of the program that families will see their SNAP benefits drop overnight,” Coalition Against Hunger in Philadelphia interim director Julie Zaebst said in a statement.

“Given the fact that many families’ benefits already run out before the end of the month, these cuts will be particularly painful.”

The report further points out SNAP is one of the fastest and most effective ways to spur economic growth, as the benefits boost demand for farm produce, estimating every $1 increase in SNAP benefits generates about $1.70 in economic activity.

Study authors also noted the U.S. House of Representative recently voted down legislation that would have cut an additional $20 billion from SNAP, taking away benefits from an estimated 5.1 million Americans, but that the legislative body is still considering and could vote on even deeper cuts in the coming weeks.

“We shouldn’t forget that the majority of recipients are children and the elderly, for whom food assistance is essential,” said Just Harvest Pittsburgh executive director Ken Regal said in a statement.

“It is unconscionable that the richest nation in the world would take food out of the mouths of its most vulnerable citizens, who are struggling through no fault of their own. There should be no cuts to this modest assistance.”

By the numbers

47 million Americans who receive SNAP benefits will be affected by food assistance cuts in November.

22 million of those affected are children.

68% of all SNAP participants in Pennsylvania are in families with children.

36% of all SNAP participants in Pennsylvania are in families with elderly or disabled members.

79% of Pennsylvania households receiving SNAP benefits have an income that in 2012 fell below the federal poverty line, or $22,000 for a family of four.

32% of Pennsylvania households receiving SNAP benefits are in “deep poverty” and have an income that in 2012 fell below 50% of the poverty line, or $11,000 for a family of four.

1.8 million Pennsylvanians will see cuts.

$5 billion will be cut from SNAP in fiscal year alone 2014.

$183 million will be cut from SNAP benefits in Pennsylvania.

A family of three will see an average reduction of $29 a month in food assistance benefits, causing them to receive less than $1.40 per person per meal.



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