How to Feed Your Infant While on Food Stamps in Pennsylvania

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Managing family finances is difficult, but it is even more challenging for families that plan to have children. Families should always consult their finances before having a child. It is natural for families participating in the SNAP food stamps program to worry about how they will be able to provide nutritious meals for their children. It is certainly possible for parents in Pennsylvania to raise children while receiving SNAP benefits, but it is important parents understand exactly what kind of benefits are available to them. Even for families already receiving SNAP benefits, the family’s individual program will undergo a few changes after they have had a child, all of which are meant to provide additional support.

Changes to SNAP

While SNAP is a very helpful program for low-income families, there is no denying it can also be confusing to figure out how the benefits work. Unlike other federal aid programs, SNAP does not have a set dollar amount for what families receive. The amount of money available from SNAP benefits depends primarily on the income of the family. However, this is not the only determining factor.

The other big factor that determines SNAP benefits is the size of the family, as well as certain demographic information of individual family members. Like most federal aid programs, SNAP does prioritize infants and children. Low-income families that were previously denied food stamps in Pennsylvania may not only be eligible after having a child, but they will jump to the top of the waiting list. In addition to being marked as higher priority, families receive additional benefits after having a child. Exactly how much more money is available depends on what the family was previously making, but in many cases, it ends up being a substantial increase.

Purchasing Food with SNAP

Families need to be aware of exactly what they can purchase with their SNAP benefits. For the most part, what items can and cannot be purchased with the SNAP EBT card is fairly straightforward. However, the normal SNAP guidelines do not go into detail about food items specifically meant for infants.

Fortunately, SNAP is very accepting of buying food for infants. Families can purchase baby formula from any store that accepts EBT cards. Unlike with other federal aid programs meant to help infants, families can freely purchase any type of baby food they want, as well. When purchasing food for an infant, families do not have to do anything special with their EBT cards. SNAP does not set aside specific funds that have to be used for the child.

Something new parents should try and do is plan a food budget for their child in advance. Unfortunately, food for infants can be very expensive, and families still need to provide food for all the other members in the household. Planning a weekly food budget helps families keep everyone in the house well-fed.

What Families Cannot Purchase with SNAP

Families that have never used SNAP before having an infant may find the program a little confusing. For the most part, SNAP is very straightforward with what items can be purchased. Nearly any food item can be purchased from a grocery store using an EBT card. However, SNAP is meant solely for food and not for health items. Unfortunately, this means families are not able to use SNAP benefits to purchase other items for infants. Products like diapers, baby wipes or any infant medication cannot be purchased using the EBT card. Families that want to purchase any of these items from a grocery store will have to pay out-of-pocket for the costs.

Other Programs

Several federal aid programs help families take care of their infants. However, not all programs are compatible with one another, and there are unfortunately several programs that are not compatible with SNAP benefits. There is one very helpful program – Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – which is eligible for Pennsylvania SNAP benefits. Receiving WIC benefits can have an impact on SNAP benefits. Families might ultimately lose the additional benefits they received for having an infant, but WIC offers its own food program to compensate for the loss. Unlike the SNAP program, the WIC food list has items specifically for infants, so it should offset losing any SNAP benefits. The program also helps out with healthcare for the child, which SNAP does not provide.