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.
By


MOST RECENT

The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic college in Houston. It also has a microcampus in downtown Conroe. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of St. Thomas offering free tuition to first 500 students who apply

The online degrees are in the following fields: cybersecurity, network technology, electronic technology, general business, and alcohol and drug dependency counseling.

Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 has begun construction on the first of three phases for its new 43-acre, state-of-the-art campus located in Spring, according to a May 7 news release. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 begins construction on new 43-acre campus

The campus will house ESD No. 11's new ambulance service, which is scheduled to launch Sept. 4 when the district's contract with current service provider, Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, expires.

Tomball Star Academy will celebrate its senior class May 27 with a graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. at the Magnolia Event Center, according to district information. Students will graduate virtually from LSC-Tomball on May 13, according to LSCS information. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'They’ve created the legacy:' Inaugural class to graduate May 27 from Tomball ISD's early college high school program

The inaugural class of 95 students has been instrumental in paving the way for the students yet to finish the program, said Kelly Marchiando, the principal of Tomball Star Academy since January.

The Texas Department of State Health Services projects a significant shortage of nurses by 2032. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Why Texas faces a growing nursing shortage and what can be done to address it

In 2018, the state health department estimated about 11% of the demand for nurses was not able to be met, and that number is expected to rise to 16.3% by 2032.

HTV
Houston, Harris County annual addresses no longer hosted by Greater Houston Partnership over Texas voter bill dispute

Local leaders criticized the area chamber of commerce for not taking a definitive stance on two voting access bills currently being deliberated in the Texas Legislature.

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia. (Courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill)
Chipotle opens in Magnolia; get a sneak peek of new Houston aquarium and more metro news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The annual event begins at noon May 6. (Courtesy city of Tomball)
Tomball to host National Day of Prayer event May 6

The annual event begins at noon May 6.

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member. (Courtesy Fire Smart, LLC)
Fire Smart, LLC celebrates one year of providing fire safety education across Greater Houston area

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member.

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia. (Courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill)
Chipotle opens on FM 1488 in Magnolia

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia.

A groundbreaking was held April 22 for The Medical Center of Tomball. (Courtesy Arch-Con Construction)
Medical Center of Tomball breaks ground

A ground breaking was held April 22 for Phase 1 of the The Medical Center of Tomball.

Harris County ESD 11 plans to hire 150 individuals to staff its new ambulance services. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 aims to hire 150 staff to launch new EMS

The district launched its hiring effort in late April and held a virtual job fair April 29-30 to attract candidates.