The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called Food Stamps, helps low income households increase their food purchasing power at grocery stores and even some farmer’s markets. Those who are eligible receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card to make food purchases.
SNAP is also available if everyone in the household is age 60 or older or has a disability, purchases and prepares food together, and does not receive any earnings from work. For SNAP, a household is a group of people who usually purchase and prepare meals together. People in the household are not required to be related.
During the past year, Pennsylvania increased the income allowances for families, seniors and the disabled to qualify for SNAP from 130% to 160% of the poverty rate. As of October 1st, this new maximum monthly benefits were increased giving approximately $8-10 more a month to eligible residents. The benefit amount is calculated with the household income and the household size. For example, the PA maximum SNAP benefit limits for a household size of one is $250; household of four is $835.
To receive SNAP benefits, your income has to be under certain limits. SNAP households may receive deductions from their gross income for things like housing costs, child or dependent care payments, and medical expenses more than $35 for older adults or people with disabilities.
Pennsylvania SNAP Facts: 1.8 million people are on SNAP including 646,055 children; 326,597 seniors; and 476,751 have disabilities. I do not have Lehigh Valley, Whitehall, or Coplay numbers. Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to one-third of those eligible for SNAP are not receiving benefits.
I am trying to get the word out about SNAP and to get eligible residents enrolled. We will be handing out fliers at our WCHI Food Pantry distribution on Thursday, October 14th.
To help more people apply for SNAP benefits, Second Harvest Food Bank operates a “Food Stamps Over the Phone” outreach service. To find out if you are eligible and to actually apply for SNAP Benefits, please contact Kathryn Hoffman, Second Harvest Food Bank SNAP Outreach Coordinator at 484-821-2406 or firstname.lastname@example.org
How do SNAP benefits work? SNAP benefits are placed in an electronic account that only the recipient can use. This system is called electronic benefits transfer, or EBT. The eligible household receives the Pennsylvania EBT ACCESS card, which allows withdrawals for food purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets. The store uses the EBT ACCESS card to electronically subtract purchases from the SNAP account. The eligible household can only spend the amount that is in the account. This is not a credit card.
Sources: PA Dept of Human Services https://tinyurl.com/y4zkumm7 and Second Harvest Food Bank https://shfblv.org/snap-outreach/
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