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Texas food security groups say more families will be left hungry under federal farm bill proposal

Volunteers put oranges in grocery bags
Yfat Yossifor
Darlene Hess, left, and Deedra Bouline bag oranges during a North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank drive-thru food distribution event in March 2023 at Westside Baptist Church in Lewisville.

Food security advocates say proposed legislation scheduled for a hearing Thursday could significantly cut down on federal meal benefits across the country as hunger demands rise in North Texas.

The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture is set to consider the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024. It includes revisions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Thrifty Food Plan, which estimates the lowest possible cost of a healthy diet for a family of four and sets the basis for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP funding.

But the groups Tarrant Area Food Bank and Feeding Texas say the bill would unfairly limit funding how much for the food plan could increase to account for inflation.

They say residents in the 13 counties the food bank serves would lose out on more than $131 million in SNAP benefits and tens of millions of meals.

“In the last year, the Tarrant Area Food Bank has witnessed a surge in demand for food assistance, reaching levels not seen since the height of the pandemic,” Tarrant Area Food Bank President and CEO Julie Butner said in a statement Wednesday. “SNAP is our country’s number one defense against hunger and an important resource in our local emergency food assistance system.”

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pennsylvania, who is the committee's chairman, touted the plan the committee rolled out earlier this month in response to the Biden administration’s 2021 changes to the program after the pandemic. According to a summary breakdown of the proposal, it was a way to “(disallow) future unelected bureaucrats from arbitrarily increasing or decimating SNAP benefits."

Ben Goldey, a spokesperson for the agriculture committee, said in an email to KERA the bill "does not impact, decrease, or change any current SNAP benefits."

Changes to the TFP have been cost-neutral for more than 40 years, Goldey said. But Biden's updates to the program changed that in 2021, causing a nearly $300 billion expansion of SNAP over a 10-year period, according to the committee's summary of the plan.

"Our proposal would prevent a future administration from once again circumventing Congress and massively expanding the SNAP program," Goldey said. "Our proposal would ALSO prevent a future administration (a conservative one) from unilaterally decimating the program and slashing benefits."

The food security groups point to a Feeding Texas report from this year analyzing the most recent update to the Thrifty Food Plan that took effect in 2022 as evidence of the benefits of increased funding. With an estimated $1.5 billion increase in plan funding across the state, Texans received nearly 500 million more meals, and the increase supported more than 18,000 jobs, according to the report.

Jared Williams, vice president of government and external relations with TAFB, said the inflation approach fails to take into consideration families’ evolving food consumption patterns, preparation methods and time constraints.

“It not only limits the purchasing power for families, but it limits the quality and variety of foods that they're able to access through that benefit,” Williams said.

Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at You can follow Toluwani on X @tosibamowo.

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Toluwani Osibamowo is a general assignments reporter for KERA. She previously worked as a news intern for Texas Tech Public Media and copy editor for Texas Tech University’s student newspaper, The Daily Toreador, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is originally from Plano.