PUBLIC BENEFITS: FOOD/NUTRITION
The center focuses on health care access, immigrants' access to services, food and nutrition, the state's eligibility and enrollment system, and TANF.
Recent Food/Nutrition Publications
Expanding the Reach of the Summer Food Program (12/21/2009)
Texas has one of the largest School Lunch Programs in the nation, serving meals to more than 2.5 million low-income children every day. The Summer Food Program is intended to serve the same population, yet it reaches only a fraction of the low-income children who eat lunch during the school year. This paper compares participation in the Summer Food Program to participation in the School Lunch Program for each county in Texas. It documents Texasâ€™ progress in the Summer Food Program, explores the barriers to participation, and makes recommendations for expanding the reach of the program in Texas.
Policy Institute Urges State to Fix Eligibility System to Get Help to Hungry Texans
Austin, Texasâ€"The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) today pointed to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to show the urgent need for Texas to fix its system for enrolling needy families in the Food Stamp program. USDA reports 16.3 percent of Texas households struggled to afford food during 2006-2008. Nationally, 12.2 percent or more than 17 million households were food insecure in 2008 â€" up from 13 million in 2007 and 12.6 million in 2000. The 2008 figures represent the highest level of household food insecurity observed since the survey was initiated in 1995.
Austin, Texasâ€"The Center for Public Policy Priorities today condemned the Legislative Budget Boardâ€™s (LBB) denial of a request from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to fund hundreds of new eligibility staff for our stateâ€™s overwhelmed public benefits system. The new staff would be an essential step toward fixing our system, which cannot process applications timely or accurately. LBBâ€™s denial comes as the state faces an increased need for public safety net services during the worst economic climate in a generation, a demand by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on September 24 for immediate corrective action, and a private class-action lawsuit against the state for failure to meet federal Food Stamp timeliness standards.
Recommendations to USDA for Ending Hunger by 2015 and Reducing Child Obesity (09/10/2009)
CPPP Senior Policy Analyst Celia Hagert offered recommendations to USDA on reducing childhood obesity and ending hunger.
Austin, Texasâ€"The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), Houston Food Bank, and San Antonio Food Bank today highlighted the findings of a new report revealing millions in unclaimed federal benefits available for hungry Texans, as well as newly-calculated data showing the significant effect of anti-hunger stimulus spending on the Texas economy.
This summer, Share Our Strength, a national organization that works to prevent child hunger in America, is talking with teachers across the country about child hunger in their classrooms. The Hunger in America's Classrooms: Share Our Strength's Teacher Project is intended to raise awareness about child hunger in America and build a movement of Americans dedicated to ending it. You can help by spreading the word to teachers across Texas.
Austin, Texasâ€"On Friday, July 31, 2009, the Texas Legal Services Center (TSLC) and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) filed a class action complaint in U.S. District Court against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) for failure to process Food Stamp applications within the timeframes required by federal law.
Three bills by Rep. Naishtat relating to the Food Stamp Program passed the House Human Services Committee and have been sent to the House Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a vote by the full House: HB 1627, HB 612, and HB 886. These bills are designed to maximize federal food assistance to low-income Texans and/or reduce the workload of the eligibility staff who process Food Stamp applications. We urge you to call the members of the House Calendars Committee today and ask them to schedule these bills for a vote as soon as possible.
Historically, federal and state welfare policies focused on moving low-income, custodial parents off of public assistance and into the workforce, and very little attention was paid to the circumstances of low-income non-custodial parents. Texasâ€™ Non-Custodial Parent (NCP) Choices program, a pilot program administered by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Office of the Attorney Generalâ€™s Child Support Division, expanded the reach of state welfare programs to include non-custodial parents. NCP Choices, which focuses on increasing the earnings of non-custodial parents who owe child support, shows that placing a greater emphasis on low-income, non-custodial fathers is a highly effective strategy to lift families out of poverty and improve child well-being. HB 2636 would expand this pilot program to make NCP Choices services available in every child support office in the state. This Policy Page explains how NCP Choices works and why this cost-effective, successful, and innovative program should be expanded.
The Texas Recovery Plan (03/25/2009)
Public structures such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Unemployment Insurance were created to help families in tough economic times and to help the economy recover from a down cycle. These are indeed tough timesâ€"we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Tragically, many Texans are becoming aware for the first time of the crumbling nature of many of our public structures, weakened by years of neglect when times were good. Now that times are tough, we find our systems unprepared. Fortunately, though, the new federal economic recovery law makes resources available to help repair and improve these systems, which will in turn energize economic activity and get Texas on the road to recovery.
But, Texas will only get the federal fundsâ€"and the needed improvements to our public structuresâ€"if state policymakers make the right choices, soon.
The House Human Services Committee will hear two Food Stamp bills on Thursday, March 26, that would maximize federal funding to provide food assistance for needy Texans. HB 1627 would use the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LiHEAP) program to maximize Food Stamp benefits for currently eligible families. HB 612 would eliminate the current ban on Food Stamps for drug felons. This Policy Page explains these bills and summarizes the arguments for adopting these changes to Food Stamp policy in Texas.
Federal Economic Recovery Legislation and Texas (02/13/2009)
Today, Congress released the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provides $789 billion to stimulate the economy. Many of these measures will also help protect vulnerable Texans during this economic downturn. To take full advantage of the benefits in the recovery package and set our economy on the road to recovery, Texas must plan immediately. We applaud Speaker Joe Straus for appointing the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, charged with monitoring federal action and suggesting to standing committees needed steps to qualify for federal economic recovery funds. This paper summarizes the portions of the bill that affect the state budget.
The Center for Public Policy Priorities today highlighted a national report on school breakfast programs that showed Texas ranks higher than most states in providing school breakfast to low-income students, but still fails to reach many students. This caused Texas to lose out on more than $30 million in related federal funds. According to the Food Research and Action Centerâ€™s (FRAC) School Breakfast Scorecard, Texas ranks 5th among the states in missed federal dollars tied to the school breakfast program.
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