Wolf Administration, Hunger Advocates Call for Support for Proposed Investments in Food Security for Pennsylvania’s Elderly and People with Disabilities

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – Leaders from the Departments of Aging, Agriculture and Human Services today joined Feeding Pennsylvania, Hunger Free PA, Just Harvest and other hunger relief advocates to highlight proposed investments in the Minimum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for seniors and people. disabilities in Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed 2022-2023 budget.

Governor Wolf is seeking to invest $14.3 million in state funds to increase the minimum monthly benefit from $20 a month to $35 — an increase that will help about 141,000 Pennsylvanians who currently receive the minimum benefit to have a little more room in their budget to keep food on the table.

“As the country continues to grapple with the impacts of the ongoing pandemic which has disproportionately affected older people and people with disabilities, access to basic needs like food is more important than ever to help sustain populations. vulnerable people in good health and to mitigate concomitant health risks,” said Acting Human Services Secretary Meg Snead. “This investment is a recognition of the interconnectedness of our daily basic needs, the economic limitations vulnerable people face in meeting those needs, and overall health and well-being. By helping these Pennsylvanians keep food on the table, we’re supporting local food retailers and producers. , ease the demand on charitable food systems and, most importantly, help people achieve the better quality of life they deserve.”

“It’s no secret that good nutrition and access to healthy food is crucial for everyone, especially seniors. With many seniors on fixed incomes and the cost of everything rising, including food, the additional support offered by Governor Wolf in SNAP will help many Pennsylvanians during these difficult times,” Aging Secretary Robert Torres said. “I encourage seniors who are struggling with their needs nutritional needs to contact your local Aging Agency or Department of Aging and allow us to assess how we can help you meet your nutritional needs or address other issues that may be impacting your quality of life . life.”

SNAP is our nation’s largest and most impactful hunger relief program. SNAP helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians by providing cash to spend on groceries each month, helping households have the resources to buy enough food to keep them from going hungry. This investment in public health and wellness also supports our local economies and Pennsylvania’s food retailers, growers and small businesses. SNAP also complements the work of our charity food network by offsetting how often a person may need to use help from a food bank or food pantry. For every meal provided by a Feeding Pennsylvania food bank, SNAP provides nine.

“In a state as agriculturally rich as Pennsylvania, no one should go hungry. That’s why we at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) are committed to programs like the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System that helps connect our food-insecure neighbors with fresh, healthy foods produced right here in the Commonwealth,” said Caryn Long Earl, Director of the Office of food assistance from PDA.” However, these foods, along with the food and state and federal funds we provide to the Pennsylvania Charitable Food System, are only part of the solution. In order for Pennsylvania’s elderly and disabled to have access to well-balanced diets, it is essential that we increase SNAP benefit levels for these individuals. »

“While our food banks strive to provide nutritious food to all Pennsylvanians facing hunger, our work is only a fraction of what federal nutrition programs can accomplish. For every meal our food banks provide , SNAP provides nine,” said Jane Clements, CEO of Feed Pennsylvania. “We are grateful to the Wolf administration for providing funding that will support some of the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance.”

SNAP helps nearly one million seniors and people with disabilities buy fresh, healthy food, complementing the work of our charity food network and investing in local grocery stores, small businesses and food producers while helping vulnerable Pennsylvanians. to keep food on the table. While SNAP is a federal program and is funded primarily by the federal budget, states administer eligibility and issuance of benefits.

“I thank God for all I can get and $20 is a start, but try spending $20 these days with prices so high. Milk is $4, bread $3, American cheese at $6.99 and a bologna pound at $5.99. that’s all I can do for a month,” said Janet, a 70-year-old SNAP recipient from Pittsburgh whose story was shared. by Just Harvest. “Older people deserve a good meal, just like the rest of the population. Please increase the minimum SNAP allowance and help seniors like me afford healthier foods. $20 isn’t nearly enough to really help with today’s prices.”

Inadequate diet and chronic nutritional deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risk of chronic disease, increased risk of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased cost of care. health. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the number of food-insecure seniors more than doubled between 2001 and 2015, but participation in the SNAP program demonstrated a reduction in the rate of hospital or nursing home stays. .

In addition to SNAP helping to keep food on the table and reducing rates of ill health that can come from insufficient food access, SNAP helps local economies. In May 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a study on the influence of SNAP buyouts on the county-level economy and employment before, during, and after the Great Recession. This study found that SNAP reimbursements could have a greater economic stimulus impact than many other forms of government spending per dollar spent because they are paid directly to low-income people, helping them meet their most basic needs. essentials and to invest in food retailers and producers. more generally. While SNAP is intended to be an additional program, the pandemic, historic unemployment, and continued economic instability have strained resources over the past two years, especially for our lowest-income Pennsylvanians. This investment will help seniors and people with disabilities continue to meet this most basic need that is essential to our quality of life and our health.

“Lutheran congregational pantries and community meals are feeding thousands of hungry families across our Commonwealth each month. Even in areas where employment has increased, many are finding that the need remains stable, with a growing percentage of elderly people in search of charity food,” Reverend Angela Hammer said. of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Penryn. “Those they serve express their gratitude and say they worry about the downfall – when they have to deal with more expensive heating bills on top of higher gas and food prices.”

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

All Pennsylvanians who are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic, job loss, or change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they are eligible for food assistance, health care and other basic needs.

For more information on food assistance resources for people in Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and economic insecurity, see the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.

MEDIA CONTACT: Brandon Cwalina, DHS – ra-pwdhspressoffice@pa.gov
Jack Eilber, Aging – agingcomms@pa.gov