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The SNAP Cliff

Advocacy List

Please see the bottom of this post for useful resources and additional information.

On November 1 of this year the monthly benefits for every Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP / food stamps) recipient was reduced. On that date the boost in SNAP benefits made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, often called “the stimulus package,” expired. This action affected nearly 1.8 million Pennsylvanians and will cut total SNAP benefits to Pennsylvanians by $183 million from this November to next September. The anticipated impact of these reductions to the Food Bank’s 11-county service area is a loss of nearly $33 million over an eleven month period - nearly $3 million per month.

For SNAP recipients in our service area, we anticipate greater reliance on pantries and other emergency food resources, foregoing expenditures on other basic needs (rent, medicine, utilities) in order to be able to purchase food. We also expect that many families who have not felt the need to seek help from a food pantry will now be in need, and member agencies will see an increase in the number of new clients.

Households currently receiving SNAP will see a drop in their monthly benefits. A one-person household will get $11 less each month; two people - $20 less; three people - $29 less. A four- person household will get $36 less per month – equivalent to 21 fewer meals per month.

While nothing can be done at this time to undo this change in government policy, we all need to be aware, and make others aware, that these changes occurred. We can also let people know that there may be opportunities to obtain increased SNAP benefits by making certain that the County Assistance Office knows about all of their current costs and deductions.

All households have a number of basic costs and not all income can be used to buy food. So in determining available (net) income, SNAP allows certain deductions which can reduce a household’s gross monthly income number used to determine the appropriate level of SNAP benefits. Two of these deductions that are sometimes overlooked or underutilized are: 

  • Dependent care deduction for the out-of-pocket child care or other dependent care expenses that are necessary for a household member to work or participate in education or training; and 
  • Medical expense deduction for out-of-pocket medical expenses greater than $35 a month that an elderly or disabled household member incurs.

Making certain that households claim all the deductions for which they qualify can help make sure families receive all the benefits for which they are eligible. The amount of SNAP benefits a participant receives each month is calculated based on a formula that includes income and household size. In order to determine how much income families have available to purchase food, the benefit formula allows applicants to deduct certain household expenses, such as medical expenses or dependent care. Please let SNAP participants with whom you interact know about these deductions.

Please help spread the word and empower people to get all of the vital food assistance for which they are eligible.


Our partners at Feeding America have created an excellent fact sheet regarding these deductions which is available here.

A listing by county of community partners available to help with SNAP applications is available on the 'Get Help' section of our website

A listing of County Assistance Offices in the Food Bank’s service area is available here.

Feeding America recently developed a special section on their website with information about these reductions in SNAP benefits.