The Texas Food Policy Roundtable has come up with four issue areas where Texas can make the greatest improvements in creating healthy food access for all Texans:
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
Formerly referred to as “food stamps,” SNAP food benefits are designed to help impoverished Texans buy food and other resources for good health. Currently, Texas enrollment rates are extremely low as compared to the number of those eligible. The state has recently begun concentrated efforts to relieve a backlog of applications in the eligibility process. Since SNAP funds are entirely federal, it is the job of the state to make sure those resources reach those in need.
Summer Food Programs
Many children who are eligible for free or reduced lunch meal prices go without nutritious food during the summer months. This deprivation and the deprivation of organized activities create one of the largest learning gaps which set many school children back during the following school year. Summer Food Programs, like Summer Food Service Program, offer children at least one meal per day during the months they are not in school. Summer food sites are often schools, community centers, or churches. This program has a lot of room for growth, and this summer the goal is to drastically increase the amount of food sites in Texas. Churches are getting involved with this initiative, feeding children and keeping them active during the summer months.
There is a direct relationship between hunger and obesity. A recent New York Times article quotes an expert saying that obesity and hunger often the “flip sides to the same malnutrition coin.” Often, when people are hungry but cannot afford healthy food, they buy what they can afford—processed, high-calorie meals that will keep them full. If hunger is going to end in Texas, the obesity issue must be addressed.
Sustainability and Nutrition
The Texas Food Policy Roundtable believes that every Texan has the right to healthy food. To achieve this right, Texas must develop sustainable and local food systems.