Legislative Agenda for the 2011 Session

The Texas Food Policy Roundtable will focus on four areas of food policy in the 2011 session: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Summer Food Service Program, obesity and nutrition issues, and sustainability & local food access. The members of the Roundtable are keenly aware of the state budget crisis. We urge the Legislature to consider all available alternatives prior to cutting vital services. This includes use of the Rainy Day Fund, maximization of federal funds and additional revenue-generating methods. It is especially important to preserve the recent progress made by HHSC in the area of SNAP enrollment.
The Texas Food Policy Roundtable has adopted the following as its 2011 legislative agenda:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Improve access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps) to help Texas families afford a nutritious diet by supporting legislation that -

  • Eases eligibility restrictions that prevent some needy Texans from receiving benefits.
  •             Facilitate the re-entry process for previously incarcerated people into local communities by providing access to SNAP.
  • Adequately funds the eligibility system with the appropriate number of staff and up-to-date technology.
  •             Support exceptional funding for growing technological and staffing needs at Health and Human Services (HHSC) to adequately administer SNAP.
  • Simplifies enrollment procedures.
  • Explores the benefits of software programs designed to streamline the enrollment system.

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
Increase participation in the Summer Food Service Program so that more children in Texas will continue to receive nutritious meals when school is out by supporting efforts to -

  • Identify and address barriers that affect summer food access participants.
  •        Establish an advisory committee for SFSP to address low usage and barriers to providing services. This committee will provide guidance and support to the Texas Department of Agriculture.
  •         Change the requirement for mandatory SFSP participation for schools with 60 percent free/reduced lunch rate to schools with at 50 percent free/reduced lunch rate. Create and enforce oversight for mandatory SFSP participating schools.
  • Develop alternative service delivery models and expand the use of mobile meal sites.
  •        Seek a federal waiver that would allow for the expanded use of mobile food delivery.
  • Improve coordination of federal, state, and local policies.
  • Provide non-financial incentives for schools to serve as commissaries for summer food programs and to expand their involvement in July.

 
Obesity and Nutrition
Promote policy solutions that increase nutrition and reduce obesity by-

  • Increasing access to healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, in underserved areas.
  • Simplifying and increasing participation in school breakfast and lunch programs, Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and senior adult meal programs.
  •      Support the legislative priorities of obesity-focused coalitions including Partnership for a Healthy Texas.
  •      Implement Universal School Breakfast Program for schools that have 80 percent (or higher) low-income students.
  • Increasing support for and recognition of healthy initiatives in schools.
  •      Provide funding and other types of support for healthy school initiatives.
  • Increasing accountability for the implementation of coordinated school health programs.
  • Maximizing state-level opportunities under federal child nutrition reauthorization.

 
Sustainability and Local Food Access
Create a local, sustainable, and accessible food system for all Texans by supporting efforts to -

  • Create incentives, such as authority for property tax exemptions and local wastewater rate reductions, for local food production, urban farms and community gardens.
  •    Authorize local-option tax and fee-based incentives to encourage urban agriculture.
  • Assist farmers in transitioning to fruit and vegetable production.
  • Recognize and promote local and sustainable food production best practices.