Isn’t fraud with SNAP benefits something that should be taken incredibly seriously? 

March 4 – Officials have reported that Pennsylvania has been seeing an increase in SNAP participation. 

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps low-income families with food benefits at a variety of stores in the area. 

Last week, it came to light that two store owners in Chambersburg have been charged with SNAP trafficking, which occurs when SNAP benefits are illegally exchanged for cash or other illegal products, such as drugs. 

The store owners stole more than $180,000 dollars in the trafficking ring. 

SNAP is funded through federal dollars. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “And yet there are some lawmakers that would like to reduce the penalties for people who rip SNAP off. So isn’t it in our better behalf here as taxpayers to hold our lawmakers accountable? We want more oversight of our money. We want tighter restrictions on our money. We want better care of monitoring and frankly, I want bigger penalties because the very people that are ripping SNAP off are hurting the most vulnerable in which it’s for.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “One of the reasons that program has been growing is I believe, a year or so ago the eligibility criteria got expanded. So that’s a big piece of that. There’s been some talk in Harrisburg of reducing the grading of crimes related to SNAP abuse. So I’m not for that either. I mean, this is public money. This is everyone’s money that goes into these programs and people that need the benefits, great. I mean that’s why those benefits are there. If this helps them get the things they need, that’s great. But the people that are abusing it need to be punished.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “And the idea that well we have to do this because of inflation, oh my goodness. Of all the things that inflation is affecting that we should re examine some things, like how about prevailing wage? That’s the problem with prevailing wages. We used to have these lower end numbers that you wouldn’t have to apply it to. Well, those haven’t been changed to reflect inflation either. But this is the one that the state government is going to actually worry about inflation on? How much is stolen from SNAP benefits or welfare benefits?”

Barkdoll said, “These things are always so tricky, too, because they’re typically indexed to federal poverty limits. It depends on the size of your household and you must be within I believe it’s 130% of the federal poverty line to qualify for the benefits and of course, that number moves from year to year. But no doubt there are some people that have figured out ways to abuse the system. Each state has these programs. In Pennsylvania, the Inspector General oversees the enforcement of it, and I’m sure there’s all kinds of things in place to try to catch people that might be engaging in fraud. But in today’s world, unfortunately, that seems to be often part of these programs.”