PITTSBURGH — State and local leaders united for a press conference Thursday at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, addressing concerns over food insecurity.
The officials addressed the recent loss of the “emergency allotment” SNAP payment that had been provided to families throughout the pandemic. February marked the last month in which SNAP recipients received the additional funds, which had provided an average of $181 per month, per household.
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“We are out here today to help raise awareness about the fact that this change is going to be really significant for so many families,” said Val Arkoosh, Acting Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
“This change in emergency SNAP benefits is hitting families at a time when, with inflation, utility bills, food and gas prices were already pushing families to the breaking point,” said Lisa Scales, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Leaders urged individuals who are in a position to donate to consider offering food items or monetary donations to local food banks and pantries.
To help offset the loss in extra funds, leaders stated that Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget includes measures aimed at keeping people fed.
“The state alone cannot bridge the $200 million a month gap in federal funding to maintain the emergency allotment,” Arkoosh said. “But, the Shapiro/Davis administration is aiming to ease this abrupt decrease.”
The proposed budget seeks to increase the minimum SNAP benefit by 50 percent for seniors and people with disabilities. It would be a $16 million investment, Arkoosh said. Another piece of the proposal includes continuing a free breakfast for every child in Pennsylvania’s public schools, which would cost $38.5 million.
Anyone in need of help, information or resources surrounding food banks, pantries and other assistance programs is encouraged to call 211 or click here.
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