By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The Corbett administration is moving to preserve $300 million a year in federal food stamp benefits for Pennsylvania residents.

The federal farm bill signed into law last month changed the way food stamp benefits are linked to heating aid.

By using $8 million in federal heating assistance, Corbett will be able to preserve $300 million in annual federal food aid in what’s known as the “Heat and Eat” program.

In the past, Corbett has sought to rein in assistance programs, and has imposed an asset test for food stamp recipients (see related stories).

But Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, says food stamps had already been cut in November.

“This is about preserving the benefits that individuals are receiving,” she said today, “and these cuts would be substantial.”

Corbett’s move will maintain about $60 to $65 in average monthly food assistance for 400,000 low-income Pennsylvania families.