On Monday, the state revealed that 609,595 Texas households - representing 1.5 million Texans - received disaster food stamps as a result of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. This staggering number includes 150,908 completely new applications since Ike - a testament to the severe need facing its victims and the powerful response of this federal program.
Even before Ike, food stamp levels in Texas were astronomically high. According to HHSC records 2.5 million Texans, 57% of whom were children, were forced to rely on food stamps in August - despite continuing problems plaguing 1 in 5 applications to the state's new eligibility system.
While this bottleneck must be fixed, local nonprofits are helping families cope with the interim system. Summer Stringer of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, who helps families apply for food stamps, explained that many families don't know what to do. "For some folks, this is the first time through here, and they’re really embarrassed," she told the Ft. Worth Star Telegram.
Even the feds are getting involved. Recognizing that need is outstripping the delivery of services for these newly hungry families, USDA announced a $75,000 outreach grant to the South Texas Food Bank late last month.