High Plains Food Bank supporting nutrition assistance for Texas seniors & disabled

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Announced today, High Plains Food Bank urged state legislators to quickly pass a pair of bipartisan bills that would streamline access to nutrition assistance for Texas seniors and people with disabilities.

The companion bills, filed in the House by Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) and in the Senate by Senators Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Royce West (D-Dallas), would direct the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to simplify the lengthy SNAP application and recertification process for Texas households composed exclusively of seniors or people with disabilities.

Zack Wilson, executive director of the High Plains Food Bank said passing these bills costs no additional money to taxpayers.

“It’s simply an administrative change on paper, to make it easier and more streamlined for our seniors to access food,” said Wilson.

“Seniors across Texas and right here in the Panhandle are struggling to have enough to eat. We’ve seen a lot of growth in our senior food box program and senior SNAP applications our team has assisted. It’s critical to help remove obstacles in providing proper nutrition for local seniors,” added Wilson.

HPFB said eligibility for SNAP involves a complicated set of factors including household income, assets, and expenses. The resulting application and documentation requirements are common barriers for Texans seeking aid. But seniors and people with disabilities often have stable financial situations that can make determining their eligibility much easier.

Prior to COVID-19, HPFB said that Texas had the fifth-highest rate of senior food insecurity in the nation with 11% of seniors at risk for hunger, according to the national group Feeding America. Research by the USDA also shows that people with disabilities experience higher levels of poverty and face an increased risk for food insecurity.

“What we can’t get or reach with our food distribution in a lot of these areas, could definitely be benefited and offset by the snap program for a lot of our seniors,” said Wilson.

A similar bill filed two years ago passed on a bipartisan basis through the Senate and a House committee. However, it did not receive a House floor vote before the legislature adjourned.

Wilson said people can help by letting their representatives know they want these bills passed.

“There’s clearly bipartisan support to help seniors and people with disabilities access the federal benefits they are eligible for,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “We look forward to working with the bill authors and a broad coalition of advocates to make these changes while the need for food is so great.”

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