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Federal SNAP Cuts Negative Effects on People, Food Banks, Economy

from PA Department of Human Services

Federal SNAP Cuts Negative Effects on People, Food Banks, Economy

Pittsburgh, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller on Friday joined representatives from anti-hunger organizations, employment and training programs, local grocery retailers, and state and local officials at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to discuss the effects from the Trump Administration’s numerous attacks on the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP). Cuts and changes to eligibility for the program will negatively affect charitable food networks across the state, thousands of vulnerable Pennsylvanians, and Pennsylvania’s economy.

“SNAP is not just the nation’s most important anti-hunger program – it helps support local farmers and small businesses and grows economies around the country,” Sec. Miller said. “If proposed federal changes to the SNAP program take effect, the negative impacts will be felt well beyond the thousands of SNAP recipients who will be hurt. Without SNAP, charitable food networks will see an increased demand that they may be unable to meet, and retailers and food producers will experience lost profits from a decreased or more constrained customer base.”

SNAP helps more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians access food, including about 700,000 children, about 690,000 people with disabilities, and about 300,000 older adults. If people receive less SNAP benefits each month or lose eligibility altogether, they may not have flexibility to make up the cut to their food budget without missing bills or giving up other essential needs. People will turn to local food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens to help meet this need, which creates additional strain on charitable food networks that operate on limited resources.

“This steady stream of changes are part of a sustained attempt to weaken federal efforts to protect the most vulnerable of our neighbors including children and seniors in need. If allowed to take effect, they will cause real harm to thousands of people and hundreds of food retailers throughout our community,” said Lisa Scales, President & CEO of Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

In addition to SNAP helping 1.7 million Pennsylvanians keep food on the table and avoid chronic hunger, SNAP helps local economies. More than 10,000 authorized retailers participate in SNAP across Pennsylvania, and these retailers redeemed about $2.6 billion in SNAP benefits in 2018 according to the USDA.

In May 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a study on the influence of SNAP redemptions on the economy and county-level employment in the time leading up to, during, and after the Great Recession. This study found that SNAP redemptions could have a greater economic stimulus impact than many other forms of government spending per dollar spent, especially during a recession, because they are paid directly to low-income individuals. For instance, the grocery subsidies deliver food directly to tables along with a financial return into rural supermarkets and small businesses in those communities.

The Trump Administration has proposed two rules and has finalized a third that will jeopardize access to SNAP:

SNAP participants have an opportunity to gain skills through SNAP 50/50 programs that can help them get a job and excel in career paths like culinary arts, hospitality, banking, health care, and skilled labor. The programs also help with job placement and job retention skills. SNAP 50/50 partnerships come at no cost to the commonwealth and create great value by helping participants gain valuable career skills that can help them find a career path and move off public assistance like SNAP and reach self-sufficiency. By helping participants move into the workforce, SNAP 50/50 supports communities that need skilled workers and helps broaden the state’s tax base.

There are currently 19 SNAP 50/50 programs across Pennsylvania including New Century Careers at the roundtable today. DHS has seen more than 300 positive outcomes – graduations or employment placements – since the start of the SNAP 50/50 program. DHS is actively working to expand SNAP 50/50 partnerships around Pennsylvania, but without greater support from the federal government, there will not be enough employment and training programs to meet the need created by the ABAWD rule’s more stringent work requirements.

“Every one of these rule changes hurts vulnerable people and organizations in Pennsylvania and around the country,” said Secretary Miller. “Every one of these rule changes forces people who are already in difficult positions to make the unconscionable choice of paying for food or paying for other necessities like utilities, rent, or medicine. Food assistance is a simple investment in the public good for all of us. We must lift up the stories of the many Pennsylvanians for whom food assistance programs like SNAP and the help from charitable food organizations is invaluable and protect and preserve these life-saving resources.”

For more information on SNAP, visit