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TX Lawmakers Urged to Remove Barriers for Vulnerable SNAP Recipients

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Texas ranks as the fifth-highest state for senior food insecurity, according to Feeding Texas. (texasimpact.org)
Texas ranks as the fifth-highest state for senior food insecurity, according to Feeding Texas. (texasimpact.org)
 By Roz Brown - Producer, Contact
April 20, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas -- Hunger relief organizations say the pandemic combined with February's unexpected winter storm in Texas has highlighted the state's food insecurity and want to see legislation passed to help.

The advocacy group Feeding Texas urged state lawmakers to pass a bill that would simplify certification and recertification requirements for some people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, previously known as food stamps.

Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas, said the minor modifications included in Senate Bill 224 still would maintain the integrity of the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"This population, that has no earned income, typically has to apply, and then reapply every year," Cole explained. "And this would lengthen that period of time to three years, and waive that face-to-face interview requirement."

Cole pointed out the legislation applies to people with disabilities and senior citizens, 63% of whom are often forced to choose between food and medical care.

Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, said many seniors and people with disabilities who have secretly struggled with hunger have been forced to seek help during the coronavirus pandemic.

"There's more of an understanding that this can happen to anyone," Berg stressed. "And this is an immediate need people have and particularly for older Texans and for people with disabilities. Just make it easier for people to get the food."

Cole added at least 11% of Texas seniors are at risk for hunger, a figure that has likely doubled because of the pandemic.

"So it's really specifically targeted at folks who we know also have higher rates of hunger, generally speaking, and face specific challenges navigating the current application process," Cole concluded.

Feeding Texas estimates only 50% of Texans who likely qualify for the SNAP benefits are enrolled.

Disclosure: Hunger Free America contributes to our fund for reporting on Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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