The state will expand eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

Effective Oct. 1, Pennsylvania will increase 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 in more than 174,000 households will be newly eligible for SNAP and will receive, on average, $63 a month.

“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 Department of Human Services (DHS) Executive Deputy Secretary Andrew Barnes. “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.”

“While our food banks strive to provide nutritious food for all Pennsylvanians facing hunger, our work is only a fraction of what the federal nutrition programs can accomplish. For every meal our food banks provide, SNAP provides nine,” said Jane Clements, CEO of Feeding Pennsylvania. “We are grateful to the Wolf administration for recognizing the need to expand access to SNAP for families who were just outside of the eligibility threshold, yet still in desperate need of support to make ends meet.”

Beginning Oct. 1, DHS will expand Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) for SNAP. While SNAP is a federal program and its 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 will be one person, $2,266; two people, $3,052; three people, $3,840; four people, $4,626; five people, $5,412; and each additional member adds $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.

Applications for SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at compass.state.pa.us. SNAP and Medicaid applications are accepted by phone by calling the Consumer Service Center at (866) 550-4355.

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