Human Services

Bipartisan Senate Farm Bill Aims to Strengthen SNAP, Not Undermine it Like the House’s Proposed Bill

Last Friday, June 8, the Senate Agricultural Committee came out with its plan for the Senate Farm Bill. Keeping with the Farm Bill’s long tradition of bipartisan support, this version was released by the Senate Agricultural chairman Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas and the ranking member Debbie Stabenow who is a Democratic senator from Michigan. Unlike the House version of the bill which included harmful work requirements connected to SNAP, the Senate Farm bill would reauthorize SNAP and make steps toward improving it.

Rep. Fitzpatrick Made the Right Choice On SNAP Cuts; Unfortunately Rep. Costello Did Not

Last week, the House of Representatives voted against the troubling Farm Bill that had recently passed through the Agricultural Committee. This version of the bill would have resulted in many Pennsylvanians losing access to SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps, which is often the last defense against hunger in our communities. The proposed House Farm Bill would cut SNAP benefits by nearly $19 million and take away food assistance from two million Americans who already struggle to make ends meet. It would particularly hurt families, children and the disabled by implementing strict and ineffective work programs, as well as unforgiving reporting rules, that would lead to people losing this critical benefit.

Take Action Now: Food Stamp Work Requirements Will Harm People with Criminal Records Trying to Build New Lives

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The following is a guest blog post from Sharon M. Dietrich, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Litigation Director. The post originally appeared on their website here.

Proposals to toughen work requirements to qualify for SNAP benefits (food stamps) are all the rage.  Even in areas of high unemployment, low income people without children and who are not considered disabled would be permitted to receive SNAP for only 3 out of 36 months, unless they were working 20 hours per week.  The proposals are under consideration by Congress (for the Farm Bill), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Pennsylvania General Assembly (HB 1659).

These work requirements would lead to loss of SNAP and to food insecurity among many low income Americans not fortunate enough to have work.  But one population would be especially hurt: people with criminal records.(link is external) One out of three(link is external) American adults has a criminal record.

Proposed Elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)

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The following is a guest post from Steven Martinez, Communications Director at the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania:

Winners and Losers

Governor Wolf decided yesterday to allow the latest Republican budget to become law. We were hoping he would veto it.

PA to Expand Medicaid beyond Healthy PA

Yesterday, the Wolf administration announced that it is changing the state's course on Medicaid expansion. Under Governor Corbett, Pennsylvania was to have a Medicaid-light expansion, which expanded coverage for low-income folks, but through private insurers.

Governor Wolf's administration is scrapping this proposal and shifting people who were receiving private coverage to public coverage. This move is supposed to make the coverage options more streamlined and the process less complex for folks covered under the plan.

Punxsutawney Phil and Governor Corbett

I published a commentary this week on Governor Corbett's 2014-15 budget proposal this week in the Allentown Morning Call. Check it out.

Punxsutawney Phil is predicting more chilly weather ahead, but a winter-weary Gov. Tom Corbett must have spring on his mind. His budget address Tuesday painted a bright and rosy picture of Pennsylvania's future even as we remain in the grip of a long economic winter.

Cut to Federal Food Aid Impacts Families and Children in Every PA County

A major funding cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) took effect November 1, impacting 1.8 million Pennsylvanians.

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and a powerful tool to help keep families out of poverty. Benefits are modest, offering many Pennsylvania families a crucial bridge in this slow economic recovery.

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