Supplementing your Food Supplies while on SNAP in Texas
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The population of senior citizens continues to rise, along with increasing food insecurity due to a slowly recovering economy. The USDA’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) was designed to provide fresh vegetables, meats, grains, fruits, oils, dairy and other nutritious foods to needy individuals over the age of 60. The program is administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), which maintains large food banks and a network of local distributors. The Texas Department of Agriculture is involved in disbursing funds to administer CSFP, and monitoring the program in conjunction with various nonprofit and for-profit organizations that focus on providing nutritious meal options for families. One affiliated program is the National School Breakfast Program/School Lunch Program. The first thing to look at before applying for aid programs are the income qualifications.
Maximum Income Qualifications
To be eligible for CSFP benefits, applicants must reside in the state of Texas and earn below 130 percent of the federal poverty line. According to the Texas Agricultural Act of 2014, the maximum income level to receive benefits is set at 185 percent of the federal income level. This amount translates into an annual income of $21,775 for a single person household, or a monthly income of $1,815. Add $7,696 per year or $642 per month to calculate the requirement for each additional family member. However, for an elderly household, the income requirement is reduced to $15,444 per year, or $1,287 per month.
How do I apply?
CSFP applications must be submitted in person. Applicants need to provide proof of residency, earnings statements, and ID along with their application. Make sure all the information you supply is correct since inaccurate information can cause the application to be denied.
What happens after I apply?
After you apply and are approved for CSFP benefits, you will have to pick up your grocery box each month. If you are unable to do so, then it can be delivered to you.
What is included in the CSFP bag?
Generally, a CSFP grocery bag or box will weigh approximately 30lbs and contain fresh vegetables, 1-2 pounds of rice, beans and cheese. Also included are cereals, canned milk, canned vegetables, pears, peaches, applesauce, a jar of peanut butter and 128 ounces of fruit juice. This might not seem like a lot, but since the average cost of a meal in Texas is significantly below the national average, a $50 food bag could go a long way on a low budget.
City Specific Initiatives
The Houston Food Bank offers a Senior Box Program that provides a $50 box of produce and packaged food to residents of Harris County who are 60 or older. This program requires that you sign up in-person at the distribution site.
San Antonio Residents can check out the Project HOPED Distribution Center, which provides food for senior citizens. The program relies on funding from donors such as restaurants, farmers, wholesale distributors, and retailers.
The East Texas Food Bank has a Box Program that distributes food to 28 local centers in Eastern Texas. The program only requires proof of income if you are not already eligible by being on SNAP, Medicaid, or disability. The Food Bank also provides educational workshops on nutrition education, cooking and meal planning. Additional topics include: how to find nutritious food on a low budget, store food, improve food safety and exercise.
The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) was the first CSFP program in Texas and has distribution sites in six counties: Dallas, Coilin, Denton, Ellis, Fannin and Kaufman. The NTFB has two different programs, the “People and Nutrition Program” (PAN) and the “Nourishing Neighbors” program. The PAN program provides food packages to individuals who apply in person to a distribution site. Applicants need to bring photo identification, income statements and proof of residency, such as a utility bill. The NTFB’s Nourishing Neighbors program is another supplemental food program for individuals aged 50 and up. The NTFB also provides pet food for seniors with cats or dogs.
What kind of meals can I make with the Texas CSFP food package?
The food package has enough ingredients to make a variety of meals. For example, the following meals need only a few extra ingredients:
- Nacho Chips and Dip: Made with CSFP provided beans, cheese and diced tomatoes. Beneficiaries would just have to buy cream cheese, spices and tortilla chips to make a complete meal.
- Macaroni Salad: Combine the CSFP macaroni and diced tomatoes with mayo and spices.
- Vegetable Gaspacho: Using butter spices and onion with the CSFP provided carrots, corn, green beans, peas, potatoes and cheese.
- Egg Fried Rice: Mix the CSFP carrots, corn, green beans, and peas with soy sauce and spices to top on CSFP rice.
The USDA has a strict anti-discrimination policy. If you ever feel that your civil rights have been violated, you have the right to file a complaint with the local HHSC, or the USDA.
What are Food Stamps?
The Food Assistance Program helps people with low-income buy healthy food. A food assistance household is normally a group of people who live together and buy food and cook meals together. If your household passes the Food Assistance Program’s eligibility rules, the amount of food assistance benefits you get depends on the number of people in your household and how much money is left after certain expenses are subtracted.