The clock is running out on expanded snap benefits across Pennsylvania.
Emergency COVID benefit payments are ending at midnight on Tuesday, which will affect tens of thousands of people around Erie.
The press secretary of the Department of Human Services (DHS) said that SNAP recipients’ benefits do not expire for those who keep their card active.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the DHS has had federal funding to provide additional payments to SNAP households. Typically, SNAP recipients usually receive one payment a month.
For the past three years, DHS has been providing emergency allotments which include a second payment every month. This second payment brings SNAP households up to the maximum amount that they are eligible for or an additional $95.
“We know that families have been used to these payments for the past three years and having this change is a significant change. We are encouraging folks as well, we know that the charitable food organizations in the areas,” said Brandon Cwalina, press secretary, DHS Office of Press & Communications.
Cwalina added that it is important for SNAP recipients to keep their case information updated as changes to income, expenses or household size can adjust normal payments.
One nonprofit is teaming up with local churches during the next couple of months to help families who are having a difficult time making ends meet.
The Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC) are filling bags with boxes of cereal, oatmeal, cans of soup, and more, to hand out to their consumers.
“We have seniors who went from $149 in SNAP down to $23 to $49 — a huge discrepancy,” said Karen Hund, case manager, GECAC.
So, how are families supposed to survive with such a short turnaround?
“That’s part of the question isn’t it?” Hund added. “We’ve had people having to choose between rent and food and prescriptions and other things because they have to feed their families, their children, themselves. It’s really put food insecurity as a top priority.”
For those who currently got the additional emergency benefits, they do not expire if the card stays active.
Families that need food assistance can go to the following resources for help:
- All SNAP recipients can keep their case information up-to-date in COMPASS and report any changes to their income, expenses, and/or household size, and monthly SNAP benefits can be adjusted if households have seen a change in financial circumstances, including rent, child care or adult care expenses, or certain medical expenses.
- SNAP recipients who are pregnant or have kids under 5 may be able to get help buying food from PA WIC. You can call 1-800-WIC-WINS or apply online at www.pawic.com.
- You can call 211 or visit www.pa211.org to connect with various local food resources;
- Visit www.feedingpa.org to find local food banks and other food assistance programs;
- Go to www.dhs.pa.gov/ending-hunger and www.agriculture.pa.gov/food_insecurity for information on assistance programs and other resources; and,
- If you are a SNAP-eligible senior citizen, the Senior Food Box Program can also provide you with additional shelf-stable groceries. Learn more about these programs from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.