To say that Pennsylvanians are in need due to the novel coronavirus is a massive understatement. Savings have been gutted. Family members have passed away. And there’s been little relief amidst a bureaucratically divided Congress. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has provided many families with food stamps to pay for meals they couldn’t otherwise afford during these trying times.
But not enough.
A chunk of the emergency relief provided by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act went to SNAP benefits, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) used an equation to determine where exactly those extra funds went — and somehow, those who were hurting the most were left out.
That’s because anyone who already received the maximum benefit couldn’t receive anymore. Not so coincidentally, those were the people who were most likely to be living in poverty — and therefore the ones who needed the extra help to survive more than anyone.
Feeding America released an October 2020 survey that shed light on the rise in food insecurity in Pennsylvania. The new settlement should rectify some of those huge obstacles.
The Community Legal Services of Philadelphia recently tweeted: “HUGE NEWS: Community Legal Services in Philadelphia and pro bono co-counsel @MorganLewisLaw have secured a litigation settlement that will deliver significant emergency SNAP (food stamps) benefits to the neediest Pennsylvanians…We are so pleased that USDA is revisiting this issue so that people across the country can receive the help they need. Over 650,000 households in PA will finally be getting the extra SNAP they were previously denied. This will help parents put food on the table for their kids.”
Another 12 million families across the United States are eligible for the extra funding they missed out on the first time around.
Benefits Data Trust (BDT) contact center supervisor Yvonne Clintron said, “Food is always at the top of the list. You don’t work, you don’t get paid, you can’t buy food, so SNAP is always at the top.”