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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Pending federal changes to SNAP benefits may affect the Brazos Valley Food Bank

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Photo by Photo by Kaylee Cogbill
Brazos Valley Food Bank

The Trump administration will implement federal changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) later this spring, which may result in almost 700,000 Americans losing benefits, according to an article by NBC News.
Currently, the USDA sets a maximum time limit of three months within a 36-month period for able-bodied adults without dependents or a disability to receive SNAP benefits, unless they meet certain work requirements. Citizens can apply for a waiver of this time limit if they live in areas of high unemployment.
On Dec. 4, 2019, the Trump Administration raised the waiver requirements so citizens must reside in an area with a six percent or higher unemployment rate to extend that three-month period, which will take effect in April. While these changes are projected to cut benefits for thousands of citizens across the United States, representatives from the Brazos Valley Food Bank said Texas will not see any effects from these current waiver changes.
Abigail Gonzales-Davis, the referral specialist at the Brazos Valley Food Bank, said the Texas Legislature only allows people to request a waiver for benefit time-limits if they reside in an area with a 10 percent or higher unemployment rate.
“Texas has never been at a 10 percent or higher unemployment rate, so we haven’t seen the effects from the changes taking place in April,” Gonzales-Davis said. “What may affect us is going to be changes in the poverty level.”
Currently, U.S. citizens have to be at 165 percent of the poverty level or below in order to qualify for SNAP benefits. However, Gonzales-Davis said this is most likely dropping down to 130 percent of the poverty level or below in order to qualify. Other eligibility requirements may include counting vehicle assets towards income, which Gonzales-Davis said may cause a significant drop in the number of Texans eligible for food stamps.
The House of Representatives and the USDA have implemented these changes in order to encourage economic growth from individuals. However, Gonzales-Davis said it looks like these federal mandates will be removing the choice from states to decide their own eligibility requirements.
“Federal programs should empower individuals to seek employment and achieve economic independence, while reserving public assistance programs for those who are truly in need,” the USDA said in a press release from Dec. 5, 2019.
Morayo Suara, the health promotions coordinator for the food bank, said the Brazos Valley Food Bank will always welcome people to come in from the 500 counties they serve.
“We have an open-door policy,” Suara said. “If anyone comes to the food bank asking for food, we’ll be happy to help out and make sure the client gets the food that they need.”
The food bank also serves as a point of contact for other resources across Brazos Valley, such as health resource centers.
“Bottom-line, if somebody needs assistance — whatever it may be — if we can’t help them here, then we’re going to put them in contact with somebody who can,” Gonzales-Davis said.
The Brazos Valley Food Bank encourages those with questions to contact them at (979)-779-3663 or check their website at www.bvfb.org.

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