Texas is More Progressive than New York City?

September 13th, 2011 § 3 comments

In news of the weird, Texas has taken a progressive step to improve access to SNAP (formerly food stamps) that New York has yet to do.

Starting September 1, Texas no longer requires finger imaging for SNAP applicants. As a means of preventing fraud, the finger imaging requirement is widely accepted as a waste of state funds. The end result of finger imaging is stigma, not fraud prevention. An Urban Institute study in 2007 found that finger imaging can repress food stamp receipt rates by as much as 4.3 percent.

Also, signs are favorable for a pilot program underway which allows five Texas food banks access to submit applications and conduct federally-required interviews directly to Health and Human Services (HHSC). If fully implemented across Texas, individuals can go to food banks across the state in addition to HHSC offices to apply for the program and be interviewed. HHSC will still determine eligibility; only they can click the “approved” button.

There’s still a long way to go, but so far so good.

How long?

For starters, a USDA report on food insecurity released last week, shows that one in six Americans suffering from food insecurity. Texas came in second highest for rate of food insecurity, at 18.8 percent.

Today, the Census bureau revealed that U.S. poverty rate, 1 in 6, is at the highest level in 52 years. Households in the South have the lowest median income.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities shares that 4.6 million, (up 8.7 percent from 2009) Texans live in poverty and Texas leads the nation in the rate of uninsured, with 24.6 percent of our population lacking health insurance. The national average was 16.3 percent.

In our new “hourglass economy”, social service organizations like the Food Bank will face increased pressure to shoulder the social safety net. And while these improvements in SNAP do help, it is no time to celebrate.

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§ 3 Responses to Texas is More Progressive than New York City?"

  • The delay in application processing created by TIERS and low levels of staffing cause many families to continue to endure hunger and depend on food pantries but food pantries are stretched thin because of the bad economy.Finger Imaging The fingerprinting requirement for the SNAP application also complicates the process. Finger-imaging on the SNAP application is a requirement imposed by the State and is intended to reduce fraud.

  • It’s unbelievable that, given the current economic conditions, so much effort is wasted on stopping a little fraud. Not that fraud should be tolerated, but stopping it shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of helping those who truly need it. I’m glad to see Texas taking steps to fix the problem.

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