Food assistance changes come as Central Texas population grows

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Trump administration proposed a new rule that could take 125,000 Texans off of food stamps.

Last month, more than 3.5 million Texans were in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That’s almost 10% of Texans, mostly children or elderly people.

The Trump Administration has been skeptical of allowing states to add help on top of the federal guidelines. Some think it encourages abuse of the system.

For the next 60 days, the Trump Administration will get input from the public on this rule change. The Federal Government sets a floor for qualifications, but lets states go above that for income and assets they could sell for cash quick – in the hopes people would buy food.

According to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, an Austin based progressive think tank, the floor to get food stamps in Texas is 165 percent of the poverty level. That’s around $42,000 dollars for a family of four. But under this new rule that requirement will drop that to around $33,000 dollars for that family. That will cut out around 125,000 Texans from the SNAP program.

Currently, someone in Texas can use food stamps if they have assets – like a car, under $15,000. Now, that limit will be $4,600 dollars.

The SNAP rule change comes at a time when local programs fight to keep up with a growing Central Texas.

“Just living in 2019. Job layoffs. Cost of living. Just bills. Just everything. Then you have personal tragedies in your life that make a difference and change your income,” said Charlotte Jackson, who came to the East Austin Community Resource Fair for free food. The Central Texas Foodbank, Central Health, and Texas Capital Bank put it on.

“When your stomach is full, then you can think clearer. You don’t have to worry about hunger. Hunger won’t be on the list,” said Jackson.

Our area is becoming a more expensive place to live, scattering people in need across the region says Derrick Chubbs, the Central Texas Food Bank CEO.

“It’s created a moving target,” said Chubbs.

Chubbs says in the past five years they went from giving away 28 million pounds to 47 million pounds of food; while that change seems massive, they only saw a five percent decrease in the need.

“Texas is touting our statewide unemployment rate. However, we still have one of the largest poor populations in the country, as well. So it’s one of those – depends on who you’re talking to,” said Chubbs.

With new changes likely coming soon from the Federal Government, time will tell if organizations locally will have to continue to fill the gaps.

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