Policy Priorities

Federal

COVID-19 Relief

In conjunction with Feeding America, Tarrant Area Food Bank urges Congress to support all American families:

• Strengthen SNAP by extending the benefit boost for all recipients to increase benefits by at least 15 percent for the duration of the economic downturn to provide critical food assistance and to help promote economic stimulus

• Increase funding for food purchases to support food banks, specifically through an additional $900 million for food purchases through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) until September 30, 2022. Congress should also ensure any additional funding to help support USDA food purchases of commodities impacted by COVID-19 supply chain disruptions are distributed through USDA food distribution programs.

• Extend and expand Pandemic-EBT to ensure USDA has the authority needed to continue this important program through the summer and for future school closings. Extend and strengthen child nutrition program waiver authority to ensure the flexibility needed to continue operations.

• Provide direct, financial assistance to those most at risk of food insecurity by expanding the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, and ensuring that the increased benefits are targeted to those individuals and families with the lowest incomes.

• Invest $543 million in the cold storage and transportation capacity of the nation’s charitable food system.

SNAP Benefits

Improve SNAP access for vulnerable populations such as those aged 60 and older (HB 701 and SB 224 as well as college students (to be filed).

State

SNAP Benefits for Older Adults

Texas ranks as the 5th highest state for senior food insecurity, yet only 50% of eligible Texas seniors are enrolled in SNAP. Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) is hopeful for relief being proposed in the 2021 legislative session which would streamline access to nutrition assistance for older Texans. A new SNAP bill would simplify the program’s lengthy application process for Texas households composed exclusively of older adults.

Surplus Agricultural Grant

The Texas Department of Agriculture cut $1.9 million from the Surplus Agricultural Product Grant, which helps food banks procure fresh produce from local growers. The cuts are aimed at satisfying a directive from the Governor to trim agency budgets by five percent. We work with Feeding Texas and our fellow food banks to encourage Texas Senators and Representatives to support reversing the FY20-21 $1.9M cut to the Surplus Agricultural Products Grant in the supplemental appropriations process.

Eliminate the Vehicle Asset Test for SNAP Enrollment

The SNAP program is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and a means-tested program, meaning that applicants must have income below a certain level to qualify for assistance. Eligibility for SNAP is based on household size, income, citizenship status, and other factors. Texas also uses a Vehicle Asset Test to determine SNAP eligibility, which is a limit placed on the value of the vehicles that a household may own and still qualify for the program. The current limits are $15,000 for the first vehicle and $4,650 for the second or any additional vehicles. If a car’s value exceeds those limits, the excess value is applied to a liquid asset limit of $5,000 (e.g., cash in a savings or checking account). If an applicant’s total assets exceed this limit, they do not qualify for food assistance.

TAFB urges the Texas House and Senate to eliminate this outdated requirement, or reassess the value allowed on a second car based on 2021 estimates and not the previous, outdated asset limit.