Wolf Administration on SNAP Rule Change: Invest in Removing Barriers, Don’t Make Life More Difficult for Vulnerable Pennsylvanians

Harrisburg, PA – On December 4, 2019, the Pennsylvania Governor Wolf Administration today responded to the final rule released by the United States Department of Agriculture that limits states’ ability to waive work requirements based on local unemployment rates.

Today’s announcement from the Trump Administration jeopardizes food security for at least 78,000 people in Pennsylvania who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to afford food. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is the most important anti-hunger program because it helps some of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians make ends meet.

“Despite so much wealth in America, too many of our citizens are struggling to make ends meet and even put food on the table,” Governor Wolf said. “Food insecurity is a crisis in our country. Today’s decision will simply hurt those already suffering.

“We can be smarter about government spending without hurting our most vulnerable residents. We can invest in programs that remove barriers to family-sustaining jobs and make it possible for low-income Americans to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. But this is not that. Instead, this will only make life more difficult for low-income people and place greater constraints on state budgets.”

Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller said:

“We want all Pennsylvanians to have the opportunity to achieve a vibrant, productive life and the self-sufficiency that can come from employment. We also know that this isn’t easy for everyone, and many people and communities experience barriers such as lack of job training and transportation and a stagnant minimum wage that keep people unemployed and underemployed. This rule change does not invest in programs that help people find a job and succeed in employment. On the contrary, this counterproductive rule change will perpetuate the cycle of poverty and health inequity.

“In Pennsylvania, we are investing in employment and training opportunities to help people along their path out of poverty. DHS has collaborated with Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges since 2005 to help more than 15,300 people access post-secondary education and training that open doors to success in the workforce. Participants in the Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) program qualify for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or SNAP. As they pursue higher education, KEYS participants remain in compliance with federal work requirements and receive assistance with school supplies, transportation, and child care.

“DHS also supports 17 SNAP 50/50 partnerships across the commonwealth that provide job training and create pathways to employment for people who receive food assistance through SNAP, and is actively looking to grow the number of partnerships around the state.

“The Wolf Administration is also exploring opportunities to expand access to education, training, and supportive services for single-parent families experiencing economic challenges through the Parent Pathways initiative.

“Each of these programs is designed to break the cycle of poverty for Pennsylvanians who want to support their families without depending on public assistance.

“A work requirement is not an investment in programs that help people succeed in work and only perpetuates the demand for public assistance programs because it forces struggling people into a revolving door of low-paying, dead-end jobs.”

MEDIA CONTACT: J.J. Abbott, 717-783-1116