Kamia Rathore, CPPP Health and Wellness Policy Intern
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, is the largest program for preventing hunger in our state. In Texas, SNAP helps nearly 3.8 million individuals afford food when they go through a period of financial hardship and plays an especially important role in rural areas and small towns in the state.
According to a new report and interactive tool from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), 1 in 7 rural households and 1 in 6 small-town households benefit from SNAP in Texas. Fourteen percent of households in rural areas and 17 percent of households in small towns, as defined by the Census Bureau,* participate in SNAP compared to 13 percent of households in urban counties. This follows a national trend of higher participation rates in rural and small town counties compared to urban; SNAP helps 16% of rural households and 15% of small town households compared to 13% of urban households nationally.
Over half of the households in Texas receiving SNAP are families with children, while over three-quarters of Texas SNAP households have at least one family member working. SNAP was designed as a food assistance tool to help families during times of financial stress and as FRAC’s research shows, it helps a diverse range of Texans in different communities across the state. Attempts to scale back SNAP or reduce eligibility hurt all Texans and can have a disproportionate impact on rural and small-town areas.
In both the president’s proposed budget and the U.S. House Budget Committee’s budget resolution, SNAP faces potentially drastic and unprecedented cuts. The president’s budget would shift SNAP from a fully federally funded program to a shared-funding structure that could put Texas on the line for $9.2 billion over 10 years in order to maintain current program levels. The House’s budget resolution, which may be voted on as soon as September, would also move SNAP costs to states and cut the federal program by $150 billion dollars over 10 years.
Given these threats to the largest anti-hunger program in Texas, it is more important than ever for communities, advocates, and state and federal lawmakers to emphasize the vital function SNAP has across the state. Stay tuned to this blog, CPPP will join our anti-hunger partners in keeping you informed about opportunities to advocate and protect SNAP.
*The Census Bureau defines geographic areas as urban if they contain 50,000 or more people; as a small town if between 10,000 and 50,000 people; and as rural if less than 10,000 people