Senior Box Distribution

Volunteers distribute food boxes to senior citizens at the South Plains Food Bank.

Before the pandemic, Texas ranked as the fifth highest state for food insecurity among seniors, according to Tusk Strategies.

Dina Jeffries, with South Plains Food Bank, says COVID-19 and last week’s storm has only made that worse.

The food bank is helping vulnerable citizens put food on the table, through its Senior Box distribution day.

"We hope to serve about 600, up to a thousand senior citizens today," Jeffries said.

Jeffries says half of Texas seniors face food insecurity.

"Locally, we are seeing more and more seniors come onto assistance programs simply because of Covid, coming through a pandemic, but also now with this 'Snovid,'" Jeffries added.

Because of last week's deadly storm, Jeffries says some seniors are unsure if they'll be able to pay for food and medication, along with high utility bills.

To make the situation worse, Jeffries says the application process for SNAP benefits is extremely complicated.

"If you don't have a computer, or you're not literate in computer technologies, you're going to have a problem filling out the application. I learned yesterday it's a 32 page document. 18 pages have to be completed," Jeffries explained.

Wednesday, the food bank joined a coalition advocating the passage of a bill in the Texas legislature.

It would simplify the certification and recertification process for SNAP benefits.

"Once you are certified to receive SNAP benefits, we want them to stay on the program for as long as possible, without having to go through a recertification process quite so soon," Jeffries said.

Political consulting firm, Tusk Strategies, reports that only half of eligible Texas seniors are enrolled in SNAP, due to the burdensome application process.

"I think if we all just do our part and learn what we can, and one voice really does make a difference. One voice can make some much needed change," Jeffries added.

Lubbock State Senator Charles Perry is sponsoring the proposal.

He says it makes little sense for senior citizens to have to fight through red tape for benefits.

Simplifying the renewal process, he says, will help ensure continued access to healthy food and a better life.

You can learn more about the bill here: https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=87R&Bill=SB224