HOUSTON — Texas Health and Human Services officials announced Friday that the state is providing a surge of food benefits to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients in the 58 counties, included in the State Disaster Declaration following Hurricane Harvey.
SNAP recipients in the affected counties will see their September benefits automatically loaded on Sept. 1 onto their Lone Star Cards. Normally benefits are staggered among recipients throughout the first half of the month. With this change, Texas will issue $160 million in benefits early to more than 600,000 SNAP households in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey.
On Saturday, SNAP recipients in the affected counties will see a percentage of their August benefits automatically added to their Lone Star Cards to replace food that was lost during the storm. With this change, Texas will issue replacement benefits to more than 716,000 SNAP households in the affected counties.
There is no action required by the recipient to receive either of these additional benefits. Both are the result of federal approval of waivers requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission from USDA Food and Nutrition Service following Hurricane Harvey.
“This is an unprecedented disaster. We’re doing everything we can for Texans and members of our own HHS family who were affected by this terrible storm. Our staff is working fast to roll the benefits out to people in need,” said Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Charles Smith. “Texans dealing with the aftermath of Harvey need access to food benefits to replace what they lost in the storm.”
To ensure food benefits are continued seamlessly for those impacted by the storm, Texas also requested and received federal approval to automatically extend benefits for six months for certain recipients who were up for renewal in the affected areas. No action is needed by the recipient.
To provide additional support to SNAP recipients who were evacuated or are unable to prepare foods as a result of the storm, Texas previously requested and received federal approval to allow the purchase of hot foods with SNAP benefits through Sept. 30. SNAP recipients can now use their benefits for hot foods and ready-to-eat foods, such as rotisserie chicken or grocery store deli foods at retailers that accept SNAP anywhere in the state. HHSC quickly made requests for these actions following Hurricane Harvey and reports of food lost during power outages and flooding caused by the storm.
Texas also is continuing discussions with the federal government about the possibility of a Disaster-SNAP waiver that would offer short-term food assistance benefits to eligible families recovering after they return home following the disaster. D-SNAP benefits would be available in a phased approach in the coming weeks to eligible people who are not currently receiving SNAP and are residents of one of the counties that have a federal disaster declaration.
Recipients are encouraged to use YourTexasBenefits.com or the Your Texas Benefits mobile app to manage and view benefit information and to update HHSC of any address changes. Recipients also are encouraged to sign up for electronic notices to stay informed about their cases.
To check benefit amounts, recipients can visit YourTexasBenefits.com or call the Lone Star Help Desk at 1-800-777-7EBT (1-800-777-7328). For more information about benefits, go to YourTexasBenefits.com, or dial 2-1-1 or 1-877-541-7905.