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An additional 420,000 Pennsylvanians will qualify for food assistance as of Saturday

  • Kate Giammarise/WESA
This May 3, 2017, photo shows a display of fruit in a Whole Foods grocery in Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

 Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

This May 3, 2017, photo shows a display of fruit in a Whole Foods grocery in Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Donna Strejcek works full time doing medical billing from her Pitcairn home, where she’s also raising her teenage grandson. The inflation-driven cost of food recently pushed her to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

“A lot of people a lot of people are really struggling. Me included,” she said.

Food costs for her are “just unreal. The price of food is unreal,” she said.

Until recently, she would have earned too much to qualify for the benefit, but as of Saturday, an additional 420,000 Pennsylvanians will qualify for food assistance.

Strajcek’s is exactly the type of family the expansion of assistance is aimed at.

“I’m struggling to just get through from one pay to the next pay,” she said. “I mean, I don’t make a bad wage. It was livable, say, a few years ago. I didn’t have a problem with food. And now I find myself between groceries and utilities, I just can’t seem to make it from one pay to the next. I’m short on groceries.”

State human service officials are changing the income threshold to qualify for the SNAP program from 160% of the federal poverty guidelines to 200% – about $4,626 monthly for a family of four.

“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,” Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Executive Deputy Secretary Andrew Barnes said in a statement announcing the change earlier this month.  

kate snap enrollment pennsylvania graph.PNG

The benefits are federally funded but the program is administered by states.

Newly eligible households will receive, on average, $63 in assistance per month.

Additionally, households will also receive an extra amount of assistance as long as the federal Covid-related public health emergency declaration is in place.

More than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians are enrolled in the program. Enrollment in SNAP statewide is roughly 8% higher than it was prior to the start of the pandemic, according to state statistics.

“With the toll taken by the pandemic and inflation, every day we take calls from folks who work low-wage jobs, or who are elderly or have a disability and are on a fixed income. They’re having to make horrible choices about what they can spend their money on: shelter or child care, medication or keeping the lights on. They’re limiting what they eat because they can’t afford groceries,” said Pittsburgh-based anti-hunger advocacy organization Just Harvest, in a statement. “So, we’re thrilled that the Wolf administration’s Dept. of Human Services found a way to help more households just above the poverty line be able to qualify for some help.”

To learn more about if you qualify for SNAP: or call the consumer service center at 1-866-550-4355.

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