SNAP recipients may see changes to their benefits beginning October 1, 2017
Harrisburg, PA –The federal government issues adjustments to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) maximum benefit amounts, deductions, and income eligibility standards at the beginning of each federal fiscal year. This year’s adjustments were recently announced.
The changes, which vary by year, are based on an annual Cost of Living Adjustment and take effect on October 1, 2017. This year the maximum benefit amount will decrease, but the income limit will increase. For example, the income limit for a family of four at 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guideline will raise $25 from a monthly net income limit of $2,025 in October 2016 to $2,050 in October 2017.
“SNAP is a federal program that is administered by the state and provides critical benefits to Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations,” said Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Teresa Miller. “These benefits are used to buy food and help eligible low-income households in Pennsylvania have nutritious diets by increasing their food purchasing power at grocery stores and farmers’ markets.”
New Study Suggests Support for Families and Children in Poverty Cannot Begin Too Early
PHILADELPHIA (PRNewswire-USNewswire) -- By age one, infants in low-socioeconomic families have already been exposed to greater environmental disadvantages that contribute to poorer cognitive and language development, according to a new study from PolicyLab and the Division of Neonatology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, this study shows that poverty can impact a child's development as early as age one.
As part of a larger study designed to determine how poverty influences brain development, children were assessed at age one using validated developmental assessments that measure infant cognitive and language functioning. The researchers found that infants in low-income families (defined as a family of four with an annual income of $23,500 or less) had significantly poorer cognitive and language performance than infants in higher-income families. For example, infants in low-income families demonstrated lower levels of problem-solving behaviors and understanding of caregiver communication than higher-income participants at age 12 months.
Additionally, this study is among the first to evaluate multiple aspects of the maternal, home and neighborhood environments of infants growing up poor. The results demonstrate a portrait of disadvantage. Low-income families were more likely to experience higher levels of stress and food insecurity, have fewer age-appropriate toys and books for their children, and provide less child-centered households. Low-income mothers scored lower on measures of verbal and visual spatial skills and were more likely to experience concentrated neighborhood disadvantage.
"The effects of poverty on older children have been well-documented by researchers over the past few decades, but this is the first study to illustrate the multiple disadvantages infants face before they turn one-year-old," said Hallam Hurt, MD, a neonatologist and professor of pediatrics at CHOP, faculty member at PolicyLab, and lead author on the study. "Today, many vulnerable children don't receive the support of programs like Head Start until age three. Our research suggests a window of opportunity for initiation of interventions at much earlier ages for both infants and their families."
"Early divergence of cognitive and language performance between low- and higher-income children increases over time," said Laura Betancourt, PhD, of the Division of Neonatology at CHOP, who conducted the developmental assessments and is an author on the study. Given this anticipated decline, Drs. Hurt and Betancourt emphasized the urgency for provision of resources for infants and mothers facing environmental disadvantage.
Although the study sample was small – 52 families from Philadelphia – it was made up of a homogeneous and healthy group of African American mothers and female babies, allowing the researchers greater ability to isolate the effects of poverty. Future research is needed to replicate this study in larger, more diverse cohorts in different locales.
Photo by Valeria Zoncoll on Unsplash
Nutritious free meals are available for children and teens 18 and younger at many locations across the Commonwealth throughout the summer while school is out of session, through the Summer Food Service Program.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), is a federally-funded child nutrition program designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas across the nation. People over 18 who are mentally or physically handicapped and participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for the disabled are also able to receive free meals at the Summer Food Service Program sites.
To learn where meals are served in your area, visit the Summer Meals Site Finder, a web-based application available for use at no charge, that also works on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices without the need to download.
The mapping tool allows users to enter an address, city, state or zip code to find up to 50 nearby locations, along with their addresses, hours of operation, and contact information, and directions.
To find a nearby site, or Information on obtaining food assistance any time of the year, call 1-866-348-6479 (1-877-842-6273 in Spanish) to speak with a representative of the USDA National Hunger Clearinghouse who will help find nearby food resources. The clearinghouse is operated by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
To learn more about the Summer Food Service Program please visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced that as of April 27, 2015, it is eliminating the SNAP asset test. The elimination of the SNAP asset test will save millions in state funds and better protects Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable.
The case closures disproportionately impacted households with a disabled individual or an older Pennsylvanian.
The anticipated state savings from eliminating the asset test are $3.5 million annually. This will also remove unnecessary administrative burdens and costs to the commonwealth, as well as increased errors that could potentially result in federal sanctions for the state.
DHS will implement this policy change by issuing a letter of notification from the administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS).
SNAP, previously known as food stamps, is a federal program that provides monthly benefits to approximately 1.83 million low-income Pennsylvanians in need of nutrition assistance.