The bill, House Bill 1287, will allow thousands more Texans to qualify for financial assistance through the program.
The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has signed a new bill into law that will expand eligibility for the federal SNAP, commonly known as food stamps
The nonprofit organization Texas Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (TXGRG), led by Mercedes Bristol, played a significant role in advocating for the bill’s passage.
Under the previous Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) policy in Texas, applicants were disqualified if the value of their primary vehicle exceeded $15,000, or if they owned additional vehicles valued at $4,650 or more. However, with the new law, the vehicle asset test threshold has been increased to $22,500 for the primary vehicle and $8,700 for additional vehicles. This change is a response to rising car prices and increased food costs resulting from inflation.
Feeding Texas, a nonprofit food bank network that supported HB 1287, reports that more than 54,000 Texas SNAP applicants were rejected in 2022 due to the previous vehicle asset test. With the new threshold, many of these families will now qualify for SNAP benefits starting in September.
While TXGRG and Feeding Texas are pleased with the passage of HB 1287, they believe that considering vehicle values when determining eligibility is an inefficient and unproductive policy
Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas, argues that the focus should be on assessing what families need to feed themselves rather than the value of their vehicles. Texas is one of only ten states that still employ a vehicle asset test for SNAP qualification.
Although the new law will help some grandparents raise their grandchildren, there is more work to be done to adequately support these families. Many grandparents, like Mercedes Bristol, who earn more than the income threshold, will not qualify for SNAP benefits. Furthermore, advocates argue that policymakers should address other challenges faced by grandparents, such as inadequate financial support and disparities in compensation for grandparent caregivers within the foster care system.
The passage of HB 1287 is seen as a step in the right direction, providing relief to families like Jennifer Washington, who previously faced financial struggles due to vehicle value limitations. However, critics maintain that politicians need to do more to support grandparents and their grandchildren. The fight for improved assistance for grandparents raising grandchildren continues, with the hope of achieving meaningful change and support for these families in need.