The Increased Demand for Food Stamps
Dallas Food Stamp recipients have increased 10% over the last year. Recipients have increased 11% across Texas. Food Stamps are a necessary means of ending hunger, but the program has slowed down considerably due to the tremendous demand and insufficient budget and staffing. Offices all over the state are working night and day. With such a workload, it is mathematically impossible for the staff in Food Stamp offices around Texas to process the thousands of new submissions, conduct 30 minute interviews with each applicant, and on top of that, renew already accepted applications. The process is hard, but Food Stamps work. They end are one of the greatest tools we have to end hunger and provide access to nutritious meals.
What Are Food Stamps?
The Food Stamps Program has been around in one form or another since 1939. It was developed to help bridge the gap between the farm surpluses of the time and the undernourished, who had no access to nutritious food. The program was closed in 1943 when the widespread unemployment of Depression Era America had been neutralized. In 1961 the Food Stamp Program was reinstated by President Kennedy and has been growing ever since. In 1977, Congress passed a new Food Stamp Act to ground the program and create the basics of what we see in Food Stamps today. Since then, every office has taken part in evolving the Food Stamps Program. In October of 2008, the Food Stamp Program was renamed SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to focus on nutrition.
Why Do We Need Food Stamps?
The need for food assistance has grown tremendously over the past year. The public has done a wonderful job of responding to the call for help, but many of those who use to make donations are now finding themselves on the receiving end.
Food Stamps help lessen the strain on food pantries, which is very important for this time of great need. They also help stimulate the economy. In fact, $5 worth of SNAP creates $9.20 in economic benefit to the local economy.
What Can You Do to Help?
You can write a letter to your elected officials asking them to help approve funding for Health and Human Services Commissions so the applications can be processed faster. Senators and Congressmen are the mouthpieces for the people. Tell them that SNAP, is woefully under-budgeted and undermanned. Ask them to lobby for the needs of the Texas community. Remind them that thousands of children are hungry in Texas and that they have the power to stop it. The more letters that go out to every representative, the more obvious this need will become. Ask that application renewals be served every year instead of every six months, or to hire more workers.
Across the state, there are offices set up to act as a middleman between Food Stamp clients and workers. An example of such an office is one in the North Texas Food Bank. On staff are Food Stamp liaisons to help clients fill out the detailed applications. By volunteering at one such office, you can extend their network to assist with many more people. Complete and correct applications need be sent in only once, wasting less time for the overworked in the SNAP offices.
Food Banks and social service agencies stand on the front lines in the battle against hunger. Your support is necessary to influence the government’s approach to Food Stamps and can directly help us turn the tide. All it takes is one letter from you.