A recent article in the Houston Chronicle reported that 3.6 million Texas residents are now living off food stamps. Data from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) shows that 40% of the population in some Texas counties and 12% in the Houston area depends on the food stamps program.
Texas’ southern border counties have been the hardest hit as the economic downturn has not only meant a decrease in salaries, but also slow economic activity in general. This trend is also representative of a national increase in the number of people accessing food assistance programs (19.5 million in the last four years). In Texas, the issue is not necessarily a lack of jobs, but a shortage of well-paying jobs. Approximately 1 million people have been added to the food stamps program in Texas since 2007.
Less than two-thirds of the eligible population in Texas applied for and received food stamps in 2010 according to a recent federal analysis. Complications arise from the stigma of receiving food stamps and other deterrents such as language barriers, long travel times for rural residents and complicated applications. Changes have been made to improve the Texas food stamps program in the last few years. Now the agency processes applications at 97% efficiency (meaning a person receives food assistance the same day they apply) compared to 60% in 2009.
The Houston Food Bank reported an increase in teachers and other unemployed educated people applying for food stamps and other assistance services in the recent months.
Read the article here.