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SNAP is Working for PA Kids

In Pennsylvania, SNAP benefits help about 683,900 children each month.  (USDA/Flickr)
In Pennsylvania, SNAP benefits help about 683,900 children each month. (USDA/Flickr)
October 13, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Federal SNAP benefits give thousands of Pennsylvania children the foundation they need to grow into healthy adults, a new report says.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report showed that SNAP - formerly known as food stamps - helps lift millions of low-income children out of poverty and gives them the nutritional support they need to succeed in school. But John Neurohr, communications director at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, said the program is frequently targeted for budget cuts by policy-makers in Washington.

"We want to talk about that now, before it comes up as a program that is potentially on the chopping block at the federal level,” Neurohr said, "because Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania families can't afford for that to happen."

Almost 700,000 Pennsylvania children, about one in four, are being helped through SNAP benefits every month.

Children born into poverty, especially deep poverty, are likely to continue being poor through their adult years, Neurohr said. But ending childhood hunger can help stop that cycle.

"Because they're able to focus on their mental, physical, academic well-being as children and grow, and hopefully break free of the chains of being in poverty,” he said.

Research has shown that family participation in SNAP increases children's performance in reading and math, and raises graduation rates.

At just $1.35 per meal on average, benefits offered by SNAP are relatively modest. But Neurohr said the program is structured to respond quickly to shifts in the economy.

"It's a smartly designed program, targeting the people that need it the most, and it's lifting kids and families out of poverty,” Neurohr said. "And that's the kind of federal government program that we all should get behind."

He said SNAP has helped lift more children out of deep poverty in Pennsylvania and nationwide than any other government program.


Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA