Mar 1, 2023 - News

Cuts to SNAP benefits spark "economic riptide" for Philadelphians

Illustration of a box that contains some food and dotted outlines of food that is missing.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Extra food assistance benefits put into place during the pandemic are ending today, leaving thousands of low-income families in a lurch.

Why it matters: 1.9 million people in Pennsylvania receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a quarter of whom are in Philadelphia, state Department of Human Services spokesperson Brandon Cwalina tells Axios.

  • Pennsylvania households on SNAP will lose on average $181 a month, per Cwalina.

Philadelphia remains the poorest big city in the U.S., with a poverty level around 23%. Just over 16% of city residents are food insecure, according to 2020 data.

What they’re saying: George Matysik, executive director of the Share Food Program, tells Axios the reduction in benefits is contributing to an “economic riptide” for families who are already dealing with inflation, increased food costs and expiration of other federal benefits.

  • “Now you have this undertow of pulling the resources away from people that need it the most,” he says.

Zoom in: The SNAP rollback will also hurt city college students, Thomas Hilliard, senior policy analyst at Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, tells Axios.

  • In a 2019 survey, more than half of Philadelphia college students reported being food insecure, which can affect their concentration and grades, he says.

Threat level: Matysik expects the drop in SNAP benefits to push low-income families to purchase cheaper, less nutritious food.

  • “When you cut away such an important subsidy [...] it becomes harder for people to afford higher quality types of food,” he says.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more