A strong nutrition safety net is essential to a future where no one goes hungry. Houston Food Bank advocates for policies that protect individuals and families from hunger. Raise your voice and let your elected officials know that you support hunger-relief programs.

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Learn more about the policy issues affecting hunger relief.

Hunger Issues:

  • SNAP
    is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as “food stamps.” SNAP provides a monthly benefit to qualified, low income consumers to purchase food. SNAP benefits are provided via an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card—in Texas, the Lone Star Card. To qualify, a household must have gross monthly income less than 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines (currently $24,600 for a family of four), monthly net income of 100 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, and assets of less than $2,000. Families receive benefits monthly, which can be spent at authorized food retailers such as grocery stores, convenience stores, and farmers markets. SNAP benefits may only be spent on food.

    • TEFAP
      is The Emergency Food Assistance Program. TEFAP is a Federal program that helps supplement the diets of low-income Americans, including elderly people, by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. Through TEFAP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases a variety of nutritious, high-quality USDA Foods, and makes those foods available to states, who then make it available to food banks. Food banks then distribute the food to local organizations, such as meal sites and food pantries that directly serve the public. TEFAP is the final safety net to protect against food insecurity.

      • CSFP
        is the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. CSFP is the federally funded program that works to supplement the diets and improve the health of qualifying low-income individuals with USDA foods. The program typically provides nutritious, shelf-stable food to more than 600,000 low-income seniors each year and 30 pounds of shelf-stable food to participating seniors each month.

        • The Farm Bill
          is legislation authorized every five years by Congress that shapes national agricultural and food policy. Within the Farm Bill are programs critical to agricultural interests, such as crop insurance, commodities, conservation, and farm subsidies. There are also programs important to the hunger community, such as the programs listed above as well as a few other smaller programs. The nutrition programs authorized by the Farm Bill are critical to Food Bank clients and Food Bank operations. SNAP helps many of HFB clients purchase food that supplements what they can receive at Food Bank Partner Agencies or purchase with their own income. TEFAP provides critical federal commodities, comprising approximately 23 percent of HFB inventory. Additionally, TEFAP provides money to assist with storage and distribution of the commodities. CSFP provides nutritious food boxes to our senior population.

        • Our collaborators in improving health and nutrition:

          • 2018 Farm Bill by the House Agriculture Committee

          On April 18, 2018 The House Agrigulture Committee passed H.R. 2, Agriculture and Nutrition Act out of committee. The bill includes several harmful cuts to federal nutrition programs that would have significant negative impact on the people we serve.

          A call from you tells them that their constituents care about hunger issues and are holding them accountable for their policy decisions. Your voice matters.

          All you have to do is pick up the phone, dial Feeding America’s toll-free number, enter your zip code, and you’ll be connected to your Member of Congress’s office.

          1. Dial the toll-free number, 888-398-8702 and listen to the pre-recorded message.
          2. Enter your  zip code and automatically get connected to your Rep. Once connected to your Member of Congress, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from.
          3. Let the office know you are calling about The Farm Bill.

          What do I say?

          Let them know your top priorities for the Farm Bill include:

          • SNAP is the single largest program aimed at curbing hunger and helps puts food into the hands of some 42 million Americans. Nearly HALF of SNAP recipients are children under the age of 18.
          • The bill takes food away from people when they need it most, and will make it harder for vulnerable people find a job.
          • Private organizations won’t be able to meet the higher need for food that SNAP cuts will create, increasing hunger in the community.
          • Food assistance programs like SNAP let all people participate in their local economies and makes our communities stronger.
          • Turning our backs on children, seniors and others in our community without enough to eat by slashing funding for SNAP is simply wrong.
          • SNAP must be protected and strengthened.

          Tell your Representative to vote NO on this dangerous bill – and that you expect them to vote against any bill that slashes food assistance for children and members of our community.

          Contact your congressman today!

          Recent Advocacy

          • SNAP Time Limit Rule
            In February, the Administration published a proposed SNAP ABAWD time-limit rule that would cause 755,000 SNAP participants to lose benefits and result in 8.5 billion meals lost over ten years. Feeding America has developed several materials and resources for our network to help provide public comments against this harmful proposal.

          • Public Charge
            Houston Food Bank strongly opposes the proposed public charge rule that would make it difficult for immigrant families and children to access life-sustaining health and human service programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps. We oppose punishing immigrant individuals and families who are in the process of becoming citizens for trying to access food. We call on our community members to take action and submit a comment to the Federal Register before the proposed changes become policy.

          Federal Policy

          HFB is committed to protecting the funding and structure of the federal nutrition programs that form the backbone of our nation’s response to hunger. We are urging Congress to protect and defend these programs, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as other critical anti-hunger programs such as: the SNAP Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program (SNAP-Ed), The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).


          SNAP benefits and eligibility must be protected. Without a strong SNAP, the charitable response to hunger will not be able to meet the need. Negative changes to its funding or structure could result in millions of meals lost over the next decade. SNAP responds quickly to changes in need, growing in response to increases in poverty and unemployment, and declining as unemployment falls. The program is effective, provides a path out of poverty and hunger, and leads to improved educational outcomes, productivity, and health.


          Nutrition Education plays an essential role in improving health, lowering health care costs and breaking the cycle of poverty. Food banks rely on SNAP-Ed dollars to educate families, seniors and children about eating nutritiously on a budget. The program is highly efficient, has well-documented outcomes at program- and state-levels, and is structured to ensure funding for the most competitive projects in each state.


          The Senior box program works to improve the health of our seniors by providing monthly nutritious food packages to low-income senior citizens who meet certain age and income requirements. Each month, participants receive an estimated 26 pounds of USDA commodities. Senior hunger is a serious issue, this and all senior feeding programs must be protected.


          TEFAP food is an important part of how Houston Food Bank provides nutritious food to those in need.  Funding levels for TEFAP foods are set by the farm bill, and the funds are included in yearly appropriations legislation. Last year, in recognition of consistent high demand at our food bank, the appropriations legislation included additional TEFAP funding.

          State Policy

          Houston Food Bank works closely with the Texas Legislature during session, providing testimony in hearings, serving as an expert resource and advocating for policies to make our state hunger-free and healthy.

          The Texas Legislature meets on odd-numbered years. The next regular legislative session begins January 8, 2019.

          For questions regarding Advocacy, please contact:

          Melanie Pang
          Government Relations Officer