December 2, 2013 |
It's been a month since food-stamp benefits were cut throughout America for the first time in history. And though it's too soon for official numbers and analyses, the effect of the loss of nearly $300 million in benefits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey is evident across the region. "It's mind boggling how the area has so many people this hungry," said Joanne Castagna, director of the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park, Delaware County. "We've seen an increase in people - maybe 20 percent - coming here because their food stamps have been cut and they didn't know where else to turn.
March 7, 2014 |
In a move that surprised even his most cynical critics, Gov. Corbett on Wednesday night forestalled an estimated $3 billion in cuts to food stamps in the state over the next 10 years. By doing so, Corbett became the first Republican governor in the country to prevent the cuts ordered by Congress, which is looking to slash $8.6 billion over the next decade to the food-stamp program, now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The governor's decision will preserve benefits for 400,000 Pennsylvania households slated to lose a monthly average of $60 to $65 each in benefits, amounting to $300 million a year, said Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Welfare.
August 1, 2012 |
TRENTON - Nearly one in five New Jersey households that received emergency food stamps after Tropical Storm Irene last year was ineligible for the benefits, a review found - a result of mistakes, confusion, and fraud. The emergency Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) has been around for nearly 40 years as one of the federal government's ways to provide food in disasters. While other states have used it before, New Jersey activated D-SNAP for the first time after Irene, which caused power outages affecting two million homes and massive flooding when it hit at just below hurricane level last August.
April 28, 2012 |
HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Public Welfare Department will start asking food-stamp recipients next week to prove they do not have significant personal assets in order to qualify for benefits. Advocates for the poor say the new policy will be expensive to administer and hurt families for whom the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program can be a lifeline. It goes into effect Tuesday, but it will be about six months before the department knows how many have lost benefits. "The majority who will lose benefits - the significant majority - are seniors and people with disabilities," Julie Zaebst, policy center manager for the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, said Friday.
September 20, 2013 |
The poverty rate in Philadelphia fell last year while the need for food stamps grew, a seeming paradox teased out by the widely respected American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census. What it means, experts say, is that the economy may be yielding low-wage jobs that lift some people out of poverty, but ultimately the jobs don't pay enough to feed their families. A similar pattern was repeated in Camden, where the poverty rate dipped from a startling 43 percent to 39 percent, while food-stamp need rose 12.6 percentage points between 2011 and 2012.
March 12, 2014 |
In October, the state's public-welfare secretary said she was "rethinking" the food-stamp asset test, a controversial measure tying federal benefits to people's bank accounts and car ownership. Almost five months later, not only is the asset test unchanged, but two state senators are also proposing a bill that would augment it. Pennsylvania is one of just 12 states to institute such a test, seen by advocates and academics as unnecessary red tape that stymies deserving people in accessing benefits.
April 18, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Republicans controlling the House are eyeing big cuts to food stamps as they piece together legislation to trim $261 billion from the federal budget over the next decade, hoping to forestall major Pentagon cutbacks. The cuts to food stamps would reduce the monthly benefit for a family of four by almost $60, repealing increases enacted three years ago as part of President Obama's economic stimulus. The changes would also force up to three million people out of the program by tightening eligibility rules, the administration estimates.
April 13, 2012
JOHN MANTON offers me a bowl of potato soup as I take a seat in his tight Roxborough home. He's made a pot that will last for a week. It must. Manton's learned to stretch his food, a frugality demanded by the $37.25 worth of food stamps he receives weekly. He supplements that small amount with $20 from his meager savings. Through no fault of his own, Manton's been unemployed for a year, and Gov. Corbett wants to snoop into his bank account before approving the food stamps that keep Manton from starving.
May 5, 2012 |
It's hard enough to feed a family on food stamps, but this week Pennsylvania made it harder when it imposed an unreasonable asset test. Flunking the asset test means going without food stamps, even if an individual or family meets the threshold of earning no more than 160 percent of the poverty level. Households with people under age 60 are limited to $5,500 in assets. Households with people 60 and above are limited to $9,000. Houses, retirement benefits and one car are not counted, but a second car worth more than $4,650 would be. That means a family struggling to string together part-time jobs is penalized if the parents need separate cars to get to work.
May 17, 2013 |
A Camden grocery store manager was arrested Thursday and charged with stealing more than $1 million from taxpayers in a food-stamp scheme. Alexander D. Vargas, 34, allegedly bought food stamps for 50 cents on the dollar and pocketed the other 50 cents after redeeming the food stamps without selling any food, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. It is unlawful to exchange food-stamp benefits for cash. Vargas managed the former Eddie's Grocery on the 1500 block of Mount Ephraim Avenue in the city's Whitman Park section, officials said.