Access to food is just one of many needs that they will have down in Houston, the Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana after we assess the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Hunger Free America is a non profit group advocating for access to nutritious food and ending domestic hunger.
Harvey Also a Disaster for Hungry School Children
Advocates such as Hunger Free America are making the call for monetary donations to local groups such as the North Texas Food Bank up here in Dallas Fort Worth but also the Food Banks in the affected areas. While currently in the midst of disasters even donating for the long term will be important since the effects of Harvey will be felt for some folks weeks and months to come.
Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America addresses what actions you can take to help our friends, neighbors, families devastated by this storm.
Berg states that ‘Eighty one percent of Houston public school students come from such low-income families that they are eligible for free- and reduce-price meals. On any given day, Houston public schools provide 224,000 children with free and reduced-priced breakfasts and lunches, according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). For all the horrors faced by Houston this week and into the future, add to that the heartbreaking reality of increased child hunger because school didn’t start today. To make matters even worse, because today is near the end of the month, many families that rely on SNAP (formerly called food stamp) benefits, issued near the start of the month, may have run out of benefits, and may not be able to reach area food pantries and soup pantries due to the flooding. For many kids the only meal they get is the one they get in school, when they are not in school they may not have access to a meal. That is why it is also very important to donate to school districts that are rapidly enrolling children of evacuees.
In Harris County, Texas, (where Houston is located), 886,678 people, more than half of whom are children, rely on SNAP to obtain groceries. Americans have Texas in our thoughts and prayers, but we must do more. I urge anyone who can afford to do so to donate money to the Food Bank of Houston and other Texas food banks. Even before Harvey hit, Texas had the 10th worst rate of hunger in the nation, with one out of six Texans living in homes that couldn’t afford enough food in 2015, according to USDA. But the charitable sector can’t fully respond to this massive new crisis – on top of the pre-existing hunger crises in Texas – alone. I urge the federal, state, and local governments to work together to not only get food charities the help they need, but also to make government commodities and disaster SNAP benefits available easily and widely in the impacted areas.”
Helping Local Food Banks in Texas
In the immediate aftermath of the storm the Elgin Courier reported on what’s happening with the local area food banks impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
- Food banks that were directly in the hurricane’s path, such as the Food Bank of Corpus Christi and Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria) are open but operating at a reduced capacity due to damaged facilities.
- The Houston Food Bank, the nation’s largest food bank is still impassable due to flooding. At last report, a single staff member was stationed at the food bank to assist high-water vehicles sent by City and County shelters.
- Food banks just outside the disaster zone, such as the Central Texas Food Bank (Austin) and San Antonio Food Bank are working overtime to support area refugee shelters, as well as staging food for entry into the disaster area when flooding permits.
- Smaller member food banks in the affected area are either closed or assisting local shelters on an as-needed basis.
The North Texas Food Bank is collecting donations for evacuees in shelters in Dallas. You can contribute to them directly by visiting ntfb.org/disasterrelief
— North Texas FoodBank (@ntfb) August 29, 2017
Important Information on special disaster rules for SNAP
Texas families receiving SNAP benefits can now use their benefits to purchase hot/prepared food as part of the program from now until September 30, 2017. Retail food stores licensed by the Food and Nutrition Service to accept
SNAP benefits in the State of Texas may accept SNAP benefits in exchange for
HOT foods and foods intended to be consumed on retailer premises (See Official Notice below)
The state of Texas is also considering activation of “D-SNAP.” D-SNAP is Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Texas may activate that for residents of the eighteen counties designated a federal disaster area. There are some eligibility requirements if you have at least one of the disaster-related effects or expenses below:
- Lost or no access to income.
- Home or business repairs.
- Temporary shelter or evacuation expenses.
- Home or business protection expenses.
- Cost to replace personal or household items.
- Clean-up expenses.
- Personal injury, including funeral expenses.
Get more information on DSNAP at disasterassistance.gov
When DSNAP benefits are activated, please visit Texas Health and Human Services
Will keep you updated on any changes.TX-Hot-Foods-Notice - SNAP