Feeding Pennsylvania promotes and aids our member food banks in securing food and other resources to reduce hunger and food insecurity in their communities and across Pennsylvania.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a supplemental nutrition program that helps millions of Americans each year purchase the food they need to get back on their feet. It is a critical tool to working families, helping them bridge the gap between food needs and available resources. In Pennsylvania alone, SNAP reaches about 1,864,000 people each year, which is 15% of the state population. With such a wide reach, SNAP affects more than just people who can’t afford to put food on the table. It directly supports the local economy, the work of food banks, farmers, policymakers, retailers, processors, and many others.
Gene Brady, Executive Director of the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, recognizes the importance of SNAP for his clients and the farmers in his service area. He states, “SNAP is one of the things that does the very most of any government program. It helps the broadest number of people.”Joe Arthur, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, knows that without SNAP, food banks would never be able to feed all the hungry Pennsylvanians. He says, “If the food stamp program is cut significantly, by billions of dollars, there’s no way that food banks can make up the difference.”
SNAP is also an economic stimulus, generating jobs and economic revenue for the commonwealth’s agriculture industry and retailers. Congressman Glenn Thompson states, “There’s not a calorie of food that is consumed through the SNAP program that is not produced by farm families some place.” For instance, nine percent of spending by SNAP households is spent on dairy products, which supports Pennsylvania dairy farmers. Further down the line, SNAP provides valuable food dollars to local grocery stores. Jeff Brown, President and CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, says in the 13 ShopRite grocery stores he manages, 20% of revenue comes from SNAP dollars. Brown says that significant cuts to SNAP would require him to lay off workers and possibly close stores. In fact, even a 10% cut to SNAP would result in the loss of 3,600 jobs in Pennsylvania alone. During Pennsylvania’s fiscal year 2017, SNAP benefits to Pennsylvanians totaled about $2.7 billion, resulting in approximately $4.5 billion of total economic impact in our state, from farm to fork.
Most importantly, SNAP dollars help Pennsylvanians afford the healthy food they need to get ahead. Teachers know that students need healthy food to concentrate and do well in school. SNAP is vital for military families to feed their families because it is often difficult to hold a civilian job while training. Pediatric doctors see the serious harm that hunger does to their patients, and how important SNAP can be for their health.
Many of Pennsylvania’s elected officials recognize the importance of SNAP to their constituents. Below you can find video testimonials from Congressman Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District, Congressman Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District, Representative Judy Ward of the 80th legislative district, Representative Donna Bullock of the 195th legislative district, Acting Secretary of the PA Department of Human Services Teresa Miller, and Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh.
One in seven Pennsylvanian residents receive SNAP, but those benefits have a positive ripple effect on even more people than that. SNAP is vital to Pennsylvania’s residents and its economy, and we must stand together now to protect this vital program from harmful changes.
Learn more about the potential impact of cuts to the SNAP program from recipients, state and government officials, medical professionals and representatives from PA food banks in our video series below.