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DHS Warns Many Could Go Hungry If PA Limits Disaster Declarations

The interior of Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in Pittsburgh's Strip District.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
The interior of Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in Pittsburgh's Strip District.

Nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians rely on the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in order to keep food on the table.

But, emergency federal funding that supports the program could be at risk if the state ends its COVID-19 disaster declaration.

In January alone, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services delivered more than $122 Million in SNAP benefits to families.

“All of that goes away if the legislature uses a new authority to terminate the disaster declaration,” Teresa Miller, DHS secretary, says.

Without the declaration the program, formerly known as food stamps, she says the state would not be eligible for emergency federal funding.

“Loss of this federal funding would be, in a word, disastrous for Pennsylvania and our most vulnerable individuals and families,” Miller says.

Many could go hungry, she warns

“There is no charitable food network infrastructure that would even come close to meeting the needs of Pennsylvania families if SNAP benefits were not available. For every meal provided by a feeding Pennsylvania food bank, the SNAP program provides nine,” she says.

Gov. Tom Wolf has extended the declaration through May 19.

Two Republican-backed ballot measures in the upcoming primary election will ask voters to weigh in on an amendment to the state constitution that would transfer the ability to extend or terminate a disaster declaration to the state legislature. An amendment would also limit the governor’s ability to extend a disaster declaration to 21 days.

Read more from our partners, WLVR.

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