SNAP benefits expand to help during COVID-19 pandemic
To provide more assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced the launch of a statewide pilot program allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to purchase groceries online at participating retailers for curbside pickup or delivery. The service began on May 13.
“As we respond to this pandemic, the state of Texas is committed to helping SNAP recipients throughout the state access nutritious food for their families,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. “I thank HHSC for launching this new program and for its continued work to help Texans in need while containing the spread of COVID-19.”
SNAP recipients can visit participating retailers’ websites and use their Lone Star Card to purchase groceries for curbside pickup or delivery. Currently, participating retailers in Texas are Walmart and Amazon.
Funds may only be used for grocery purchases. Other associated charges, such as delivery or convenience fees, may not be paid for with SNAP benefits. SNAP recipients do not need to make any changes or updates to their account to use this new benefit and only need their PIN to complete transactions.
In a May 11 press release, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Texas’ plan to provide SNAP benefits to households with children eligible for free and reduced price school meals.
Texas officials will distribute Pandemic – Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) cards to families with children whose schools were closed for at least five consecutive days during the emergency designation and who would have received free or reduced price meals. As the distribution of school meals is limited due to school closures, families with children in the school meals program are able to use EBT cards at grocery stores instead and online through the SNAP EBT program.
“During an already stressful time, many families find themselves without school meal benefits meant to provide nutrition and financial relief,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Now, thanks to a coronavirus relief bill Congress passed in March, families of the two-thirds of Texas schoolchildren who receive school meals will get additional help putting food on the table.”
These initiatives are the latest in the COVID-19 responses for SNAP recipients in Texas, which includes recipients having their renewal requirements temporarily waived and receiving the maximum eligible allotment by household. SNAP recipients should have seen the maximum allotment amount on their Lone Star Card by May 15 and do not need further action to receive additional benefits.