CAFB Legislative Priority: Advocating for Increased Access to SNAP (Food Stamps)

March 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

blog_lisa2Lisa Goddard
Advocacy and Online Marketing Director

With the recent economic downturn, the face of hunger has evolved.  I met with our Partner Agencies and they’ve mentioned some disturbing trends. They’re serving more middle-class families whose savings are empty, more working-poor, more single mothers and more seniors.  Some families are visiting pantries for the very first time while others are relying on our services for longer stretches of time. Now, more than ever, the face of hunger looks very much like your neighbor, or mine.

Our Partner Agencies have seen an average of 50 percent increase in people needing assistance in the last year. One of our partners in South Austin says they are experiencing a 300 percent increase.  

Food banks aren’t in the business of operating food pantries, but one of our Partner Agencies in East Austin, Church Food Pantry, was in danger of closing last fall because of the growing need.  In November, CAFB took over the pantry, renaming it CAFB East Austin Service Center, where more than 800 households and more than 4,000 people receive food assistance each month.

East Austin Service Center

East Austin Service Center

I share this to paint a picture of our community. The majority of our Partner Agencies are run by volunteers.  With the state of the economy, we are concerned that our Partner Agencies may not be able to keep pace with the growing need.

While we’re excited that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will send approximately $1.8 billion in SNAP benefits to support hungry Texas families, we’re also concerned that this will not be enough to address the growing lines at our food pantries, soup kitchens and other Partner Agencies serving hungry Central Texans. 

Food Banks can no longer only feed the growing hunger line – we must also help shrink the hunger line if we are serious about ending hunger.

Help shrink the hunger line by taking action on Texas Legislation:

HB 1625  – Families applying for SNAP (food stamps) are penalized if they own a vehicle of moderate value or a second vehicle. The bill adjusts the vehicle asset exclusion criteria for eligibility determination in SNAP, as well as for other federal assistance programs.  Many families coming to food pantries for the first time are recently unemployed and may need a moderately priced vehicle or second car to broaden their options for work. 

HB 612  – Removes the lifetime ban on SNAP for individuals convicted of a drug felony.   As ex-offenders reintegrate into society, access to food stamps help these individuals get back on their feet as they look for work. Also, the provision unfairly targets drug felons since other types of felony convictions are not prevented from receiving SNAP.  Texas is one of 14 states in the nation that has not lifted the ban on drug felons receiving SNAP.

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