Food benefits arriving early; East Texas food pantries preparing to supplement recipients

Food benefits arriving early; East Texas food pantries preparing to supplement recipients

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - An emotional roller coaster happened for millions of food stamp recipients Monday morning.

They were first told at the end of last week to expect no February benefits due to the government shutdown.

Before noon Monday, an advisory said the benefits will be available by the end of the week.

Recipients are advised to plan carefully when shopping.

The HOPE Food Pantry in Nacogdoches may help. It serves food benefit recipients on a monthly basis. HOPE stands for Hepling Other People Eat.

Eight other similar food pantries in Nacogdoches County do the same. They help clients such as 80-year old Bernita Agnew. She’s like so many other clients. Their Social Security income is limited, and food benefit dollars don’t go far, even without a government shutdown.

When asked how much in food stamps, she replied, “$16.”

There was no way to stretch such a small amount over two months, but the patient woman was willing to try.

“It’s hard to do," Agnew said. "It’s going to be hard to do.”

Shortly after Agnew left the building, a second bulletin arrived from Texas Health and Human Services. Current SNAP recipients will see their February benefits automatically loaded onto their Lone Star Cards by January 20.

At the same time, food pantries associated with the East Texas Food Bank were learning their food supply could be reduced in the future.

“The USDA is now closed and there could be delays in the supply chain of commodities in the future,” said HOPE Food Pantry board member Denise Lee.

However, food supplies are currently more than adequate. Just in case, food ordering has been stepped up.

“We will supplement whatever food you have, so you can make it through from month to month," assured HOPE Food Pantry Executive Director Becky Rewolinski.

Clients are advised to space their food purchases out throughout the month of February. Food pantries ask for the public's help in anticipation of an increased demand.

“Your donations and everything like that are so much more needed and very much appreciated,” Rewolinski said.

Agnew said she must make ends meet. Now she wants the government to do the same and put an end to the government shutdown.

“I think it’s awful. It’s just awful,” Agnew said. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Texas will continue to accept and process applications. However, if the federal funding runs out, all applications will be placed in a suspended status. Renewals and new applications should be submitted as soon as possible.

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