Wolf administration speaks out against proposed Trump policy that would impact SNAP food benefits

Cherri Gregg
December 03, 2019 - 7:17 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Wolf administration is sounding the alarm on yet another proposed change to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by the Trump administration. The Department of Human Services says it's bad for Pennsylvania.

Under current USDA rules, the SNAP programs allow recipients certain standard allowances for utilities, like heat and cooling, and allows the amount to be calculated by the states.

The proposed rule change would standardize the methodology for calculating the allowance, resulting in $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP food benefits over five years.

"This rule as proposed could negatively affect 775,000 households in Pennsylvania," Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said. 

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Miller submitted public comments to the Trump administration on the proposed changes. She says states in the Northeast will be hard hit because many SNAP residents rely on fossil fuels for heating and the new methodology does not take such fuels into account.

"I think it's incumbent for states to speak up and say this is wrong," she added. 

Miller says every $10 decrease in utility allowance will result in a $2 to $3 loss in food stamp benefits. And this is the third recent proposed change to SNAP, so its actual impact is unclear.

"The problem is we don't exactly know what this one means, but we are very concerned about what the impact could look like," Miller added.

Currently, Pennsylvania receives about 2.5 billion a year for SNAP, which plays a role in the lives of over 1.5 million people across the Commonwealth.