Delays in SNAP (Food Stamp) Application Processing Hurts More than the Food Budget.
August 21, 2009 § Leave a comment
Advocacy and Online Marketing Director
Texas doesn’t foot the bill alone for SNAP. Federal dollars pay for the cost of food items through SNAP, as well as half the administrative costs for running the program. But there are some strings attached.
Federal law requires states to process 95 percent of applications within 30 days. It seems simple enough, when technology makes it easy to process government services online – from taxes to defensive driving classes. Unfortunately, Texas puts hunger on hold for too many in need, for too long. Applications in Austin, while fairing better than most areas in Texas, are still below the 95 percent federal threshold. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) faces a class action lawsuit for failing to comply with federal requirements.
According to one of the plaintiffs in the case, Texas-based advocacy nonprofit, Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), more than one-third of SNAP applications were processed in July 2009 alone, affecting more than 45,000 families in Texas. CPPP also contends that the modest budget increase for additional HHSC staff approved by the Texas legislature this past session is not enough to bring Texas into compliance.
As you know, hunger is just one of the many unfortunate problems of poverty. The LITE-UP TEXAS program recognizes this, and helps low-income individuals reduce the monthly cost of electric service. Individuals receiving SNAP are automatically qualified and enrolled for this program. In a recent press release by Rep. Sylvester Turner, he notes, “over 85 percent of applicants are enrolled in the discount programs through a process known as Automatic Enrollment whereby Food Stamp recipients are matched monthly with contact information provided by electric and telephone companies.” Representative Turner calls for the state to help these families by retroactively qualify those families who have also been denied access to SNAP.
With record 100+ degree weather we’re experiencing this summer, the elderly and children are at increased risk for heat related health problems. Programs like LITE-UP TEXAS can make a big difference in their lives. The summer electricity aid program is set to expire at the end of September.
Have you spoken to your Texas Representative about this problem? We think you should.