A number of Jewish groups are opposing a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare to reinstitute an “asset test” for those relying on food stamps — meaning that many individuals with some money in the bank may no longer be eligible.
In Pennsylvania, eligibility for the federal program — now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — is currently based on income. But on May 1, the state plans to add further requirements and reintroduce the asset test, which was repealed in 2008. The program is funded by federal dollars, but states administer the aid. Under the new plan, households with an elderly or disabled member can have no more than $3,200 in what’s known as “countable resources.” The figure drops to $2,000 for households that don’t have an elderly or disabled member. Officials say the hope is to reduce fraud and waste and cut spending.ppppppppp
According to Brian Gralnick, director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Center for Social Responsibility, the new plan could hurt seniors and the recently unemployed.pppppppp
In December, roughly 50 members of Federation’s board of trustees signed a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett urging him to reverse course. Other local Jewish groups, including the Jewish Relief Agency, the Klein JCC and Jewish Family and Children’s Service, also joined the letter campaign.pppppppp
Last week, Gralnick and Hank Butler of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition met with Corbett administration officials to press their case.