Letter to the Editor: SNAP Benefit Reductions
The following letter was sent to the papers in the MFHS service area regarding the recent changes to SNAP Benefits:
As of March 1st, pandemic-era expansions to SNAP benefits expired in 32 states, including Pennsylvania. SNAP Emergency Allotments were introduced in early 2020, to protect the food security of low-income families amidst the economic uncertainty and supply chain disruptions of the pandemic. The USDA estimates that 30 million people will be impacted by the expirations of these benefits, losing an average of $82 per month.
While many of the massive disruptions caused by the start of the pandemic have eased, families are now dealing with much higher food costs, and the end of the SNAP expansion has many households facing a “hunger cliff” when the emergency allotment doesn’t arrive. As we hear about food banks bracing for the increase in demand, Maternal and Family Health Services would like to remind families with young children that we are here to help. The Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) provides healthy foods for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum people, and children from birth to age five.
The WIC program is designed for working families – many people qualify and don’t even realize it. A family of four can earn up to $51,338 annually and still receive WIC benefits for their children. These benefits include more than just healthy food – children receive health screenings and parents have access to nutritionists and breastfeeding support. Today’s WIC also includes an expanded list of foods, including fruits and vegetables, yogurt, peanut butter, and more.
Only about half of all WIC eligible families in Pennsylvania currently use the program. As SNAP benefits decrease, we encourage all young families to see if they qualify for WIC. On average, the monthly food package in Pennsylvania is $73 per month. For families struggling with the loss of the SNAP expansion, WIC could be the life preserver they need. You can learn more about WIC and all of our programs, and see if you qualify by visiting MFHS.org.
Maria Montoro Edwards, PhD
President and CEO, Maternal and Family Health Services