As legislators debate whether to tighten eligibility rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Capital Area Food Bank is trying to figure out how the changes could affect Central Texans.
The food bank, which supplies pantries in 21 Central Texas counties, can’t say for sure how the 284,000 SNAP recipients in its territory will be affected. But the proposed new eligibility requirements for that benefit — informally known as food stamps — will make it harder for people to get into the program, said Kathy Green, senior director of advocacy and public policy for the Capital Area Food Bank.
About 3.5 million Texans residents receive food stamps, Green said. The proposed changes would require able-bodied adults to work or receive training 20 hours a week. Food stamps also would not be guaranteed for families that receive other types of public assistance, which they are now. These and other changes could jeopardize free and reduced lunches for children across Texas over 10 years, Green said.
Nonprofits will try to fill the gap, she said. If the SNAP rules change, food banks and pantries will have to find more food for more clients. But they may not be able to get enough, Green said.
“Worst case scenario is that our partner agencies—soup kitchens and pantries—will not have as much food to give out,” she said. “So they will give a smaller amount to each client or they will be open less.”