Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rocket Science in Texas: Approving Food Stamp Applications

This little interesting nugget regarding hunger in Texas. The state is being sued because its violating its own rules regarding the timeliness with which food stamp applications are processed.

That's right - sued...

"Legal aid lawyers sued the state Thursday for ignoring deadlines in its own food-stamp rules, saying Texas still hasn't gotten serious about ending delays that block needy people from getting help."

"The suit, filed in state district court in Travis County, asked that the Health and Human Services Commission be ordered to comply with the rules, which require decisions on non-emergency food stamp applications to be made within 30 days."

"Last month, the commission processed about 58 percent of applications statewide on time – in North Texas, it was 41 percent."

""Some of these people have been waiting for six months. It's ridiculous," said Robert Doggett, an attorney with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Austin. "We're asking for a judge to order the department to make these decisions timely.""

""Commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said the state is "moving as fast as we can" and expects remedial measures to eliminate excess wait times by February."

""We've made a lot of progress since this summer but we still have a ways to go – and we know that," she said.""

I'm glad the commission knows it needs to improve. Can you imagine how long people would have to wait if they didn't?!

Central Dallas Ministries has distributed almost 2 million pounds of food in 2009. People are hungry. Its unconscionable that it should take this long to provide people with something as essential as food!

But economically it doesn't make sense. As I've written before: food stamps are money that is spent on food! It goes right back into the economy. You can't deposit a 'SNAP' card in the back. It does no good to bury it in the back yard. If you could steal one and use it, it could only be used on food. Food stamps don't purchase food at a discount. The customer with food stamps pays the same amount of money as the person using cash. The increased sales, increase the bottom line of the grocer. The longer you delay getting food stamps in circulation, the longer you delay the monetary flow that occurs when people spend money.

I don't get why any of this is so hard to understand, or why it doesn't increase the sense of urgency on the part of the Health and Human Services Commission. The fact that they appear not to get it, shows just how far they have to go to improve.

And I'm not just talking about February.

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