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More Than 100 TX Organizations Tell Congress: “Don’t Starve SNAP”

June 24, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - More than 100 Texas organizations have served up a petition to Congress, denouncing plans to overhaul the nation's food-stamp program.

About one in seven Texans rely on the program to help feed their families. The U.S. House voted to cut funding by about 20 percent and change the program - now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - to a block-grant structure.

Block grants come with pre-set funding limits and a loss of flexibility to respond to needs during rough economic times and natural disasters, says Ellen Vollinger, legal director for the Food Research and Action Center. That's something she says the program does well now.

"It can kick in very quickly and provide temporary help and get benefits flowing to those families, to help them recover and to help their communities economically recover."

The typical SNAP recipient in Texas - a single working mother on a limited income - receives $272 a month in food-stamp assistance. Critics say the House plan would cut that amount by $53. Other SNAP recipients include seniors and people with disabilities.

House debate on the cuts included charges that the food-stamp program was a form of government that had grown out of control and couldn't be sustained. Vollinger disagrees. touting its effectiveness in using private-sector partnerships.

"It uses regular retail outlets. Government hasn't had to set up its own set of government stores or government-operated trucking. It's very efficient, in the sense of being able to partner with the regular retailer community."

Many economists have identified SNAP as a public program that returns the biggest bang for the buck, she says, generating almost $2 in local economic activity for every federal dollar spent.

Churches, food pantries and community-service organizations were among the Texas groups which signed the nationwide petition, which is online at frac.org.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX