News

September 12, 2022

Summer P-EBT for PA Children Approved

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) helps families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program funding for meals missed while being out of school during the pandemic. The money on these cards can be used for food only.

Once believed to be a short-term program, P-EBT has now transformed into a longer-term federal response to the national public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer P-EBT Benefits

Eligible families will receive a Summer P-EBT payment of $391 per child for June, July, and August months.

School-Age Children

Beginning September 12 and ending on September 23, 2022, the PA Department of Human Services (PA DHS) will issue Summer P-EBT to the following school year 2021-22 Pre-k-12 students who:

  • were already enrolled in their school’s Free or Reduced-Price Meals program; or
  • attended a school where all students are automatically enrolled in the Free Meals program through the “community eligibility provision” (CEP). (CEP allows public schools with many low-income families to enroll all its students in the free meals program. This should not be confused with the recent pandemic school meals fee waiver).; or
  • were enrolled in their school’s Free or Reduced-Price Meals program or in a CEP school but did virtual instruction through that school during the past year due to concerns about COVID-19; or
  • didn’t enroll in the Free or Reduced-Price Meals program until after May 2022 but before August 21, 2022. The Summer P-EBT benefit will begin to be issued to these students on October 11.

For Children Birth through Five

From October 20-21, 2022, PA DHS will issue the Summer P-EBT payment to families who were receiving SNAP benefits for their young child at any time in June, July, or August.

Benefits

Benefits will be issued on existing EBT or P-EBT cards. If your child never received P-EBT before, the state will automatically send them a new card or will try to deposit their benefits on your EBT card if you currently receive SNAP benefits for your child and the state can match your child’s info from their school to your SNAP account.

If you no longer have your child’s previous P-EBT card, you can request a new one through the state’s P-EBT Portal. If you no longer have your SNAP EBT card, you can request a replacement by calling 1-877-395-8930.

More Information

For more details, visit the PA Department of Human Services and the Just Harvest websites.

News

June 16, 2022

Expanded Food Assistance Eligibility for Families Facing Food Insecurity

More Pennsylvanians experiencing food insecurity are now eligible for support from Pennsylvania’s network of food banks and pantries. Income eligibility for both the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded programs administered at the state level, have been raised from 150% of the USDA-established poverty level to 185%.

About

The income eligibility increase allows Pennsylvania’s charitable food system to serve more food insecure individuals who make just above the current income limit. It also brings the SFPP and TEFAP in line with other food assistance programs such as SNAP, reduced-price school breakfast and lunches provided through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

Programs

Pennsylvanians experiencing food insecurity are encouraged to explore the following programs:

More Information

Details of the new regulation and income requirements can be found in the PA Bulletin.

Find resources for local food assistance and learn more about the Wolf Administration’s steps to reduce food insecurity in Pennsylvania at agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.

News

May 12, 2022

DHS to Offer P-EBT Benefits for 2021-22 School Year

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) helps families cover the cost of breakfasts and lunches their children would have been eligible to receive for free or at reduced price through the National School Lunch Program funding for meals missed while being out of school during the pandemic. The money on these cards can be used for food only.

Once believed to be a short-term program, P-EBT has now transformed into a longer-term federal response to the national public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic.

About P-EBT Benefits

In April 2022, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture approved Pennsylvania’s plan to provide P-EBT benefits to students for the 2021-22 school year.

Beginning in mid to late June, eligible students will receive P-EBT benefits in several 10-day periods:

  • the first stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of September 2021 through November 2021

  • the second stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of December 2021-February 2022

  • the third stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of March through May 2022

  • the final stage will provide benefits for eligible students for the months of June through August of 2022

The amount of benefits received for each child for each stage will vary based on the individual student’s circumstances.

Benefits will be issued on existing EBT or P-EBT cards. Anyone who has not received P-EBT previously will get a card in the mail for each eligible child. The return address on the card’s envelope will be from Texas.

Eligibility

Children qualify for P-EBT if they receive meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and missed those meals because they were absent from the classroom due to COVID-19.

Children are eligible for NSLP if they have an approved free or reduced-price status from a household application, are directly certified by receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or certain Medical Assistance benefits through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), or are enrolled in a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school. The PA Department of Human Services will work with schools to get the necessary information to determine which students are eligible.

For more details, visit the PA Department of Human Services website.

News

November 16, 2020

DHS Warns of Potential Pandemic EBT Benefit Scam

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is warning of a possible scam concerning Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits and reminding Pennsylvanians to be skeptical of unsolicited or random calls or text messages about public-assistance programs – especially when the calls or text messages solicit personal information, such as Social Security numbers.

About

DHS is investigating a report of individuals receiving calls with pre-recorded messages advising them to expedite their P-EBT benefits issuance by providing their Social Security number and case record number. In the message, the speaker claims to be from a County Assistance Office (CAO).

DHS and other government agencies do not ask for information about P-EBT, SNAP, or any other public-assistance programs via unsolicited or random calls or texts, and Pennsylvanians should not reply to such a call or text or share any personal information if they are contacted in this way. If you or anyone you work with receive unsolicited or random calls or text messages telling you that you qualify for assistance and then asking for personal information, it is most likely a scam. Do not respond. Delete the message so you do not get caught in an identity theft scam.

Pennsylvanians who have questions about whether a call, text, letter, or other communication is legitimate should contact DHS’ Office of Income Maintenance. Clients in Philadelphia should call the Philadelphia Customer Service Center at 215.560.7226. Clients in all other counties can call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1.877.395.8930.

Apply for Benefits

Applications for the SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. All Pennsylvanians experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic, a lost job, or a change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they qualify for assistance with food, health care, and other essential needs.

More Information

For more information, read the full press release. To learn about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, visit the Department of Agriculture’s food security guide.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

News

April 30, 2020

Mayor Peduto Calls for Online SNAP Purchasing Options

On April 28, Mayor William Peduto issued a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of efforts to expand affordable SNAP purchasing options — including food delivery and online ordering — for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About

Mayor Peduto’s letter follows calls by U.S. Senator Bob Casey and others to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides eligible low-income residents with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) debit card to purchase food.

Currently, SNAP recipients cannot make any food purchases online. While other consumers can use online ordering and delivering to protect themselves and others from spreading the virus, these options are not available to low-income residents and families who are forced to make their purchases in person, increasing their likelihood of contracting COVID-19.

Senator Casey has been calling on the USDA to expand SNAP delivery options since March when stay-at-home guidelines were put into effect in Pennsylvania and across the United States of America. The Food Policy Council wants the USDA to allow SNAP recipients to purchase food for delivery and to allow other safe food purchasing options, such as allowing users to use their EBT cards for Instacart or online farmers market services.

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of low-income families so they can purchase healthy food. Eligible applicants receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) ACCESS Card to make food purchases. To check your eligibility or apply, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services website.

For questions about SNAP, call the Department of Human Services helpline at 1.800.692.7462 or your county assistance office. For individuals with hearing impairments, please call 1.800.451.5886.

More on SNAP Purchasing Options

To learn more, view the full press release or a copy of the letter to Secretary Perdue.

*Information provided by the City of Pittsburgh

News

April 14, 2020

Food Assistance Programs Available in Pennsylvania

Nearly one in seven households with children in the United States of America currently cannot afford to buy enough food for their families. When looking locally, the food insecurity rate in Allegheny County is 13 percent as of 2017. That is more than 161,000 people in the county, including nearly 38,000 children. Elected officials at all levels of government have the ability to enact policies that protect and support child nutrition programs and improve the health and well-being of children and their families. We just have to make sure that they are in office.

How You Can Help

Together, we can create a better future with our votes, advocacy, and support. However, if you are not registered to vote or if your voter registration is not up-to-date, you will miss out on important opportunities to share your voice and elect local, state, and national policymakers. Take this time to check your voter registration and encourage others to do the same!

Another way that you can make sure your voice is heard is by singing the America for Early Ed Pledge to Vote! Our voices and votes can ensure that all children in Pennsylvania receive the food and nutrition services they need to grow up healthy and strong. Will you join us in signing the Pledge?

To learn more about food insecurity in America, view this document by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). For information about available food services, please continue reading below.

 


 

Available Resources

If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance during the COVID-19 health crisis, please view the list below for information about available programs and services.

Pennsylvania 2.1.1 Southwest

If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call 2.1.1, text your zip code to 898.211, or visit the Pennsylvania (PA) 2.1.1 website.

PA 2.1.1 Southwest seeks to provide an easy-to-remember phone number and web resource for finding health and human services for everyday needs and in crisis situations, serving the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland.

Allegheny County Free Food Distribution Map

For information about free resource distribution sites in Allegheny County, please visit this website. The map includes information about locations with no age restriction, locations that serve children only, PPS Grab and Go locations, and more. View the full map to view other available resource types. 

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank provides information on emergency distributions, applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), accessing a food pantry near you, and more. If visiting a pantry, please call before your visit to confirm that the site’s hours have not changed.

For more information, contact the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank at 412.460.3663. To apply for SNAP, call toll-free at 833.822.7627, text SNAPPA to 555-888, or complete the online referral form.

Just Harvest

Just Harvest continues to provide assistance to community members applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medical Assistance, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, as well as case advocacy and eligibility screenings.

To receive assistance, fill out this form or call 412.431.8960, x602 and state your name, contact info, and the best time to reach you from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Southwest Pennsylvania Meals on Wheels

Southwest Pennsylvania Meals on Wheels provides home meal delivery for people over the age of 60 and to those of any age who are recovering from an injury, illness, or surgery. The program costs seven dollars per day, which provides two meals. A quart of milk is provided once a week. Meals can be provided as many days a week as needed.

Services are available to community members living in the following areas: Beechview, Bridgeville, Carnegie, Cecil, Clinton, Collier Township, Crafton, Dormont, Greentree, Heidelberg, Imperial, Ingram, Mt Lebanon, Oakdale, Robinson Township, Scott Township, South Fayette, Upper St. Clair, and Westwood. To learn more, visit their website!

South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM)

SHIM provides access to their pantry items via pre-packaged boxes. However, shop-thru style pantries are temporarily suspended. All pantry volunteers will implement safe distancing, wear gloves at all times, and sanitize all services.

Services are available to community members in the following school districts: Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park, South Park, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Lebanon, and Upper St. Clair. Visit the SHIM website to learn more about the program and view their pantry hours.

For questions, please contact Molly Penderville at 412.854.9120, x108 or mpatterson@shimcares.org.

JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry

The JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry is open and continues to serve community members who have a 15217 zip code and families that eat Kosher in communities outside of the area code. Individuals receive pre-bagged foods when they come into the pantry. Contact 412.421.2708 or visit their website for more information.

News

July 15, 2019

Cliff Effect Public Service Announcement Seeks Focus Group

Circles Greater Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development are seeking individuals who are willing to be interviewed and recorded for a Public Service Announcement that will raise awareness on the Cliff Effect. Participants selected will be compensated.

About

The Cliff Effect impacts individuals who are:

    • working, but still eligible for certain subsidies such as Section 8 or public housing, Child Care Assistance, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and more
    • at risk of losing benefits because of an increase in income
    • faced with choosing between a raise/increased income or receiving benefits

Available Sessions

There are two available session dates:

    • Thursday, July 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
      Carnegie Library East Liberty | 130 S. Whitfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
    • Saturday, July 20, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
      Gallery on Penn | 5937 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Registration

To register for the Cliff Effect groups, complete this form.

Share this flyer with your network.

News

July 5, 2019

General Assistance Program Ending August 1, 2019

As required by Act 12 of 2019, which amended 62 P.S. § 403.2(a), the General Assistance program will end on August 1, 2019. No General Assistance cash assistance will be dispersed after July 31, 2019.

Additional Benefits Information

Current General Assistance recipients were notified of this change via mail. If they are currently receiving other benefits like Medical Assistance or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), those benefits will continue. The Department of Human Services (DHS) will notify clients before making changes to other benefits for any reason.

This change will likely result in an additional need for resources from charitable and social service organizations around the commonwealth. DHS is working closely with their partners to identify potential resources for people affected by this change.

Receiving Benefits

If you, someone you know, or someone you work with currently receives or thinks they qualify for General Assistance, they may qualify for other benefits. Individuals can contact their local County Assistance Office or apply online via COMPASS at www.compass.state.pa.us.

More Information

For more information, contact the DHS Helpline at 1-800-692-7462.

TDD Services are available at 1-800-451-5886.

*Information provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

News

January 16, 2019

DHS Will Issue February SNAP Benefits Early

On January 8, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notified states that February benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be fully funded.

In order to receive funding however, February benefits must be issued by January 20, 2019. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has determined that they will be able to issue February SNAP benefits by January 20 in order to meet the federally imposed deadline. Below is what you need to know about SNAP benefits in January and February.

 

Receiving February Benefits

All SNAP recipients who did not have a renewal due in January, or whose renewal for January was completed by January 14, will receive their February benefits on their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards on January 18, 2019.

For those (with January renewals due) who completed their renewal after January 14, February benefits will be available on their EBT card one day after their renewal is processed.

What This Means for SNAP Recipients

These benefits will be the only benefit payment SNAP recipients will receive for the month of February. Recipients will not receive a payment on their regularly scheduled February payment date. This payment is not a bonus or increase in a recipient’s monthly payment. Rather, this payment is their benefit for the month of February.

Recipients will need to make this early payment last through an undefined period of time if the government shutdown persists. DHS is awaiting further guidance from the USDA regarding the availability of benefits for March. Because of this, recipients experiencing food insecurity may have greater challenges during this period. This will likely result in a higher number of individuals seeking aid from charitable food organizations around the commonwealth.

Applications and Renewals

DHS will continue to accept SNAP applications and process renewal applications. Recipients should continue reporting any changes and should submit the semi-annual reviews or renewals that they receive. DHS will continue to issue benefits to applicants found eligible in February until they are told to stop issuing by USDA.

Questions and Concerns

All County Assistance Offices remain open and staff are available to assist applicants and recipients during this time.

For any questions about benefits, please contact the statewide customer service center at 1.877.395.8930. For residents of Philidelphia, contact 1.215.560.7226.

Resources

For any individual seeking additional food assistance, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has compiled a list of community resources and organizations.