Food insecurity in Texas' 87th Legislature: Hunger relief organization Feeding Texas to propose legislation addressing hunger

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)
Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)

Feeding Texas hosted a Jan. 19 webinar to discuss legislative highlights for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Screenshot courtesy Feeding Texas)

The state of Texas' largest hunger relief organization, Feeding Texas, is looking to propose bills in this year’s 87th legislative session that increase funding and accessibility for hunger-relief benefits in Texas, according to a Jan. 19 webinar on food policy hosted by the organization.

According to Feeding Texas CEO Celia Cole, reduced access to foods for healthy living can be exacerbated by the added pressures felt during the coronavirus pandemic, such as job loss. Cole said the effects of food insecurity often disproportionately impact vulnerable communities, including low-income households, seniors, people with disabilities, families with children and college students.


“In a nutshell, food insecurity forces tough choices for families, and can have devastating consequences,” Cole said in a Jan. 19 webinar. “Hunger reaches deep into every community across Texas, there are hungry people in all 254 counties—every legislator has hungry constituents.”

According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, food scarcity in Texas amid the pandemic increased from 11.5% in late August to 16.5% in late December.

According to the webinar, Feeding Texas’ legislative priorities include the following.


  • Increase funding to the Surplus Agricultural Products Grant Program


    • Feeding Texas proposes the grant be restored to its full funding amount of $4.5 million in fiscal year 2020-21 and into the next biennium.



  • Increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program accessibility to seniors and those with disabilities

    • Feeding Texas asks legislators to shorten the initial SNAP application, extend the certification period to 36 months, waive the recertification interview and notify seniors on Medicaid of their SNAP enrollment eligibility. Senate Bill 224 and House Bill 701 have already been filed.



  • Remove vehicle requirement on SNAP eligibility

    • The organization proposes certain vehicle asset limits be reduced or abolished for SNAP eligibility.



  • End full-family sanction of SNAP benefits based on ineligibility

    • To maximize the amount of benefits awarded to eligible recipients, the organization proposes legislators consider ending full-family benefit sanctions based on the head of household.



  • Improve SNAP employment and training program; expand college student eligibility

    • The organization recommends to increase funding to online SNAP application process to more efficiently process registrants and designate certain community college employment programs as eligible for SNAP benefits for eligible students.




Legislators have been able to file bills for the state’s 87th legislative session since Nov. 9. While the 87th Legislature convened Jan. 12, bills can be filed until March 12, according to the Texas Legislature Online. The regular legislative session will end May 31.


MOST RECENT

Following Gov. Greg Abbott's March 2 announcement that the statewide mask mandate and COVID-19-related business restrictions will be lifted as of March 10, Harris County and city of Houston leaders are weighing in, and local health care providers are urging residents to continue to take precautions. (Courtesy Pexels)
Harris County, Houston leaders call end of statewide mask mandate a 'distraction' from power grid failures

"At best, today’s decision is wishful thinking. At worst, it is a cynical attempt to distract Texans from the failures of state oversight of our power grid," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

As of 11:30 a.m. on March 2, eight areas across Harris County remained under boil water notice affecting about 2,300 residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Thousands in unincorporated Harris County remain under boil notices

As of 11:30 a.m. on March 2, eight areas across Harris County remained under boil water notice affecting about 2,300 residents.

The statewide mask mandate will end March 10. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, local officials weigh in on end of state mask mandate

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough thanked the governor for planning to lift state mandates March 10.

The Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market is returning in person for its spring iteration. (Courtesy Jennifer Greene/HoustonBallet)
Houston Nutcracker Market to make in-person return this spring

Of the 150 merchants on the roster, nearly 50 will be making their spring debut in 2021.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas. (Courtesy Office of the Texas Governor)
Gov. Greg Abbott lifts statewide mask mandate, business restrictions in Texas

With vaccine distribution increasing, Gov. Greg Abbott said "people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate." Some local officials are pushing back, saying the relaxed restrictions are coming too early.

Kiddie Academy opened in January. (Courtesy Havas Formula)
New Kiddie Academy location opens in northwest Houston

Curriculum at Kiddie Academy of Cypresswood promotes intellectual, social, physical and emotional growth, officials said.

Tomball Fire Chief Randy Parr, pictured here in 2012, has served as chief for 17 years. (Community Impact staff)
Tomball Fire Chief Randy Parr announces retirement after 17 years

"Seventeen years is a long time, and I'm still having a hard time grasping the fact that it has been 17 years," Parr said.

With over 20 years of experience in small engine machine repair, business owner Jimmie Brock opened Mobile Lawn Doctor in June 2019. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
Magnolia repairman brings lawnmowers back to life with The Mobile Mower Doctor, sees increase in demand

“A lot of businesses have struggled through the pandemic, but it’s been a blessing for me because more people are at home ... mowing their own grass,” Owner Jimmie Brock said. “They have the lawnmower that’s been sitting in their garage for who knows how long, [and] they need me to get it going so they can mow their grass because they want to save that money.”

The projects are set to wrap up in the third quarter of 2021. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Medical Complex Drive, South Persimmon Street extensions on track for 2021 completion

The projects are set to wrap up in the third quarter of 2021.

Most of the electric grid in Texas is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which is not linked to other interconnected national electrical systems. (Courtesy Electric Reliability Council of Texas)
Leaving the Texas power grid 'not likely to be an option' for Harris County, official says

Just two weeks after severe winter weather dropped Harris County temperatures below freezing for three consecutive days, which led to widespread power outages, loss of water and the deaths of at least 50 county residents, Harris County Commissioners Court called for major reform at the state level regarding the Texas power grid and related energy policies.

Several companies are moving into the Tomball Business & Technology Park, including a new brewery and restaurant opening in late 2021, said Kelly Violette, executive director of the Tomball Economic Development Corp. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
'A developer couldn’t have placed Tomball in a better location if they really tried': Commercial, industrial growth in city of Tomball to create nearly 450 jobs

Several companies are moving into the Tomball Business & Technology Park, including a new brewery and restaurant opening in late 2021, said Kelly Violette, executive director of the Tomball Economic Development Corp.