Gov. Wolf: Congress and USDA Must Take Action to Help Food Security During COVID-19 Pandemic SHARE Email Facebook Twitter April 28, 2020 Press Release, Public Health Governor Tom Wolf today sent a letter to the members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation urging Congress to take legislative action to ensure access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to those who need it now and during the recovery months that will follow.The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) received a similar letter requesting reconsiderations for interpretations of SNAP made by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS), which denied Pennsylvania’s request to allow college students to be counted towards their household’s benefit and determined that time-limited pandemic unemployment compensation would be counted as income, potentially disqualifying households that would have otherwise qualified.“Many Pennsylvanians are now experiencing extremely challenging economic situations due to the pandemic,” Gov. Wolf wrote. “Pennsylvania needs to have every tool possible to support our most vulnerable citizens. That’s why we are calling on Congress to take swift action to ensure access to SNAP so Pennsylvanians have enough food throughout the COVID-19 crisis. We appreciate that Congress and the USDA have provided some flexibility for the SNAP program, but more must be done to help Pennsylvanians weather the difficult weeks ahead.”The Wolf Administration has submitted numerous SNAP-related waivers for Pennsylvania to the FNS. Pennsylvania has been permitted to waive certain regulatory requirements to provide flexibilities for the commonwealth’s administration of SNAP and provide emergency allotments to some current SNAP households.These waivers allow for eased access and increased benefits for families that rely on the program; however, more must be done. FNS has denied waivers that would have permitted Pennsylvania to:Allow for low-income households with a student who is attending an institution of higher education to receive additional SNAP benefits. Current SNAP rules do not allow college students to be counted when determining a household’s monthly SNAP benefit. Now that students are home, these families may not have the financial or food resources to support additional family members now at home.Make additional SNAP payments to all enrolled households. Pennsylvania previously requested authority to issue an extra payment equal to one month’s benefit to all SNAP households. FNS interpreted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to mean an extra payment that would bring households up to the maximum monthly benefit. However, this interpretation means that households currently receiving the maximum monthly benefit – 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s SNAP households – received no extra assistance. Broader issuance of emergency payments would help to further shift some demand from the emergency food system and into grocery stores, directly supporting Pennsylvania’s struggling retail and agriculture economy.The Department of Human Services (DHS) has also requested clarifications on operational adjustments necessary to administer SNAP during the pandemic. The federal government has not directed states on how to verify for reductions in income, as opposed to outright job loss, due to the COVID-19 health emergency. This guidance is necessary so applications may be properly processed.The Wolf Administration has also requested that Pennsylvania be permitted to exclude Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from the SNAP grant benefit calculation. This is not counted as income for Medicaid or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs, but is for SNAP. Counting this short-term payment as a regular payment would create an administrative burden that could result in households being removed from SNAP for a short period, only to be eligible again when payments end. This would create unnecessary confusion and loss of benefits for houses that were eligible for SNAP prior to losing their employment.“SNAP is the nation’s single-most important food security program – it provides nine meals for every one meal provided by a food bank,” said DHS Secretary Miller. “As we navigate this difficult time, we must be sure that we are able to fully leverage the SNAP program to help Pennsylvanians feed themselves and their families. It is critical that Congress and the USDA recognize the potential for SNAP to help stabilize both households in need and grocery stores and retailers and support access to SNAP for those who need it most.”DHS is continuing to process applications for SNAP and encourages people and families who need assistance to apply online at www.compass.state.pa.us. Emergency applications for SNAP can be expedited in five days, and all Pennsylvanians who are in a difficult financial situation due to the economic challenges of this pandemic should apply to see if they are eligible for assistance.Pennsylvanians who need help feeding themselves or their family can also find and contact their local food bank or pantry through Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania to access food resources in their community.Visit pa.gov for a “Responding to COVID-19” guide or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.View the governor’s letter to the congressional delegation as a PDF here or on Scribd.View the governor’s letter to the USDA as a PDF here or on Scribd.View this information in Spanish.
The USC baseball team is officially on the schneid.Following a 3-1 start to begin the year, USC has now dropped seven straight games, including all three games of its weekend series against No. 7 Cal State Fullerton.Including Sunday’s showing against the Titans, five of the losses have come by three runs or less, and four have been by one run.“I don’t think anyone who’s watching us play can say we aren’t competing,” said USC coach Frank Cruz.Sunday’s game was a pitchers’ duel with both starters lasting into the eigth. USC senior starter Logan Odom threw 104 pitches over seven and two-third innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits, while walking just one and striking out three.Odom was overshadowed by Titan starter Colin O’Connell, who threw eight shutout innings, allowing one unearned run on just three hits, all without walking a Trojan batter.Both pitchers were so dominant the game finished in one hour and 52 minutes — USC’s first sub-two hour game since March 4, 2007.“I felt good,” Odom said. “But it’s hard to feel good about a whole lot right now.”Both teams went down in order in the first two innings until a two-out hit, a steal and an error led to the first run of the game and a 1-0 Titan lead.Fullerton scored once more in the fourth with a leadoff triple and a sacrifice-fly, but that would be it for the scoring until the bottom of the eighth.With two down, junior first baseman Matt Foat singled to center and advanced to third when the ball got by the center fielder. Junior left fielder Brandon Garcia followed up with an RBI-groundout to short, and the Trojans were on the board.USC did threaten in the ninth, but at that point, it was too late.Junior preseason All-American first baseman Ricky Oropesa was up with two down and speedy freshman pinch-runner Omar Cotto Lozada on first as the tying run, but the Fullerton closer got Oropesa swinging on a full count to end the game.The first two games of the series were played on Friday and Saturday in Orange County, and the results there were no better for USC.USC was down 2-1 in the fourth when its took its only lead of the series.Oropesa doubled with one down and advanced to third on senior second baseman Joe De Pinto’s single. A passed ball allowed Oropesa to score and De Pinto to move up to second. A wild pitch moved De Pinto to third, and he gave the Trojans the lead on a Foat RBI grounder.But Fullerton put up a four-spot for the second straight game. In the fifth, junior starting pitcher Austin Wood allowed a leadoff walk and then balked, advancing the runner to second. From there, it all fell apart. After a double and an error, Wood was lifted following four-plus innings and four runs (three earned).Junior Ben Mount was brought in to minimize the damage, but it was not his day. He walked the first hitter, allowed a two-RBI single to the next and then allowed a run on a wild pitch before finally getting out of the inning with four on the board and the Trojans down 6-3.The Trojans went down in order in three of their final five innings, only once managing to put a runner in scoring position. Fullerton scored once more in the eighth to make the final 7-3.The opening game in Fullerton on Friday was even worse, as the Titans dominated in every way.Preseason All-American pitcher Noe Ramirez threw eight innings of one-hit ball, walking two and striking out eight. USC went down in order in six of its nine turns at bat, getting just four men on base the entire game.“Friday we played really, really bad,” Cruz said. “That was our worst game of the season so far.”The Titans jumped out in front early, plating four in the third against junior starter Andrew Triggs, all with two outs.USC didn’t even get its first hit until the fifth, leading to its only run of the game.But the Titans got the run right back in their half of the fifth, and put two more across in the sixth. Following USC’s second error of the game, Triggs was pulled after tossing five and one-third innings and seven runs, but only four earned.Fullerton got three more in the eighth behind a pair of wild pitches and allowing the Trojans’ third error of the game to make the 10-1 final USC’s worst loss of the season.“It’s tough right now,” De Pinto said. “But we gotta focus on ourselves and things will turn around.”The Trojans finally face some unranked competition this week when they travel up the coast to Santa Barbara to take on the Gouchos at 3 p.m. Tuesday.