By Jeanie Donovan
This Friday every household participating in SNAP will see their monthly benefits go down. A family of four will have $36 less each month in their grocery budget. A senior couple on SNAP will lose $22 per month. This may not seem like a lot of money, but for working poor families and those on a fixed income, it will have a significant impact on their food security and health.
The benefit cut, coined The Hunger Cliff, is a result of federal law, but state and local advocates must ensure that SNAP recipients in Texas are aware of the cut and resources available to fill the gap. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has alerted SNAP households of the decrease, but there are additional actions that community-based organizations can take to minimize the harmful impact of the cut on vulnerable Texas households. They include:
- Inform SNAP recipients of the ability to claim deductions to their total household income. Federal law allows SNAP recipients to claim child care expenses and medical costs as income deductions. These deductions may result in higher SNAP allotments. Here’s a helpful flyer from the Food Research Action Center. Clients will need to contact their HHSC caseworker to determine which deductions they’re eligible for and how to update their case file.
- Connect SNAP recipients to emergency food providers including food banks and food pantries in their communities. Families on SNAP will feel the financial pinch, especially towards the end of the month, and may need to turn to emergency food assistance. Here’s a map from the Texas Food Bank Network that will help you locate your region’s food bank and its community distribution sites.
- Ensure that SNAP recipients are participating in other available nutrition programs. Programs include afterschool meals, WIC, or home-delivered meals. Check out these directories to find out what resources are available in your area: Meals on Wheels Texas Directory, WIC Clinic Locator, or call 2-1-1
- Protect SNAP from additional cuts. In addition to the November 1st benefit reduction, SNAP is vulnerable to additional cuts at the federal level. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a version of the Farm Bill that included a $4 billion cut to SNAP. The House passed a nutrition-only bill with a $40 billion cut to SNAP. This week they will come together and attempt to craft a compromise between the two proposals.
House leaders appointed Texas Representatives Randy Neugebauer, Michael Conaway, and Filemon Vela to the Farm Bill Conference Committee. These Representatives will have significant impact on the outcome of the negotiations. The Conference Committee will meet for the first time this afternoon. It is up to constituents to speak up and let our Representatives know that the 1.4 million Texas families who rely on SNAP cannot afford additional cuts to the program.
Contact your Representative:
Representative Filemon Vela (South Texas)
Representative Michael Conaway (Midland/Odessa)
Representative Randy Neugebauer(Brownsville/Harlingen)
Watch their Farm Bill Conference Committee opening statements live today at 1:30 p.m. CST.
Visit the FRAC website for advocacy and outreach tools.