Bipartisan Legislation Proposes to Feed More Texas Seniors

Bipartisan legislation filed in advance of the 87th Texas Legislature would streamline access to nutrition assistance for Texas seniors and people with disabilities, according to advocates.

The companion bills, filed in the House by Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) and in the Senate by Senators Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Royce West (D-Dallas), would direct the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to simplify the lengthy SNAP application process for Texas households composed exclusively of seniors and / or people with disabilities.

“Determining eligibility for SNAP can be complicated, because it’s a targeted benefit that takes into account a household’s income, assets, and expenses. But seniors and people with disabilities on fixed incomes have stable financial situations that can make determining their eligibility much easier,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “The SNAP application process should reflect that, especially in the midst of a health crisis where accessing these benefits safely and quickly is so important.”

Prior to COVID-19, Texas had the fifth-highest rate of senior food insecurity in the nation, with 11% of Texas seniors at risk for hunger according to Feeding America. Feeding Texas estimates that only half of potentially-eligible Texas seniors are currently enrolled in SNAP. Challenges applying online and confusing documentation requirements are common barriers hindering participation. Research by the USDA also shows that people with disabilities experience higher levels of poverty and face an increased risk for food insecurity.

A similar bill filed in the 86th legislature passed on a bipartisan basis through the Senate and a House committee, but did not receive a House floor vote before the legislature adjourned.

“There’s clearly bipartisan support to help seniors and people with disabilities access the federal benefits they are eligible for,” said Cole. “We look forward to working with the bill authors and a broad coalition of advocates to make these changes while the need for food is so great.”

The bill text may be found here: SB 224, HB 701.
Read more about senior hunger and our proposal here.

Recent Posts