With the limited availabilities to families across the state with effectively using the SNAP program, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has now sent in a formal request to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to extend the program to include drive-thru/to-go services with restaurants as other establishments.
A letter was sent on Mar. 24, to the United States Department of Agriculture requesting permission to move forward to allow recipients to use their benefits throughout the state.
“As we continue in our efforts to combat COVID-19, the state must do everything it can to make life more manageable for citizens and ensure that Texans can provide meals for their families,” expressed Gov. Abbott.
“This pandemic requires social distancing, including schools, businesses, and workplaces being shut down. As you are aware this has also created an additional need for services for those experiencing a reduction or loss in wages. Not unique to Texas is the increased demand on the local SNAP retailer’s food supply,” as stated in the official letter from Gov. Abbott.
“This waiver will go a long way in doing just that. I urge the federal government to quickly approve this waiver, giving Texans another food option during this public health emergency,” he added.
Calling COVID-19 a “public health emergency,” Gov. Abbott asked that a statewide Restaurant Meal Program be implemented. If approved, he said the program would help both businesses, big and small, by ensuring “the preservation of the local food supply by allowing participating restaurants to accept SNAP benefits as payment.”
He also requested in the letter to waive and or expand the intent of CFR 274.7(g)(4)(ii) to allow any eligible SNAP recipient the ability to purchase meals from restaurants authorized by FNS for such purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If approved, it would open up another food source for approximately 3.2 million Texans.
It’s also reported that Texas is seeking to streamline the SNAP application process — including approval and agreement execution.