Hungry Families Suffer as Texas Fails to Solve Food Stamp Backlog

Contact
Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director
512.374.2764 or cmartinez@trla.org

AUSTIN, Texas – February 2, 2010 – A self-imposed agency deadline to rectify the backlog of food stamp applications in Texas has arrived as Texas food banks released data this morning showing that three million Texans turned to them for help last year.

The deadline, specified by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) in October, aimed to eliminate excessive wait times for families applying for food stamps by February. Federal and state laws dictate that families should receive decisions on their food stamp applications within thirty days. In January, nearly forty percent of food stamp applications were not processed within that timeframe.

“Children are going to bed hungry everyday because the State of Texas isn’t acting quickly enough,” said Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) Executive Director David Hall. “This is an emergency situation that is placing an unnecessary strain on local agencies and it demands immediate action.”

In mid-December, TRLA filed a lawsuit against HHSC demanding that they comply with the thirty day deadline. TRLA also runs a food stamp hotline for people having problems with their applications. In the last six weeks more than 150 families have contacted TRLA for help with their food stamp applications.

Added Hall, “HHSC said the backlog would be fixed by February, yet we still have hungry families who have been waiting months for help. Texas needs to own this crisis and solve it immediately.”

Individuals who have waited longer than thirty days for a decision on their food stamp applications can contact Texas RioGrande Legal Aid at 1-866-757-1570. Documents related to the legal battle can be found online at http://bit.ly/trlafoodstamps.

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services.

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