Drug felons eligible for SNAP once again come September 1st - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Drug felons eligible for SNAP once again come September 1st

Amarillo, TX -  Former drug felons will soon be seeing some of the benefits that law abiding citizens have access to.

Texas is the 44th state to lift this ban that will allow drug felons to receive food assistance from the federal government. It was set in place in 1996 as part of President Bill Clinton's welfare reform package.

The rule meant drug felons would no longer be able to receive food stamp assistance in the state of Texas.

Now, tens of thousands of Texas residents convicted of drug crimes will have that benefit.

Health and Human Services Chief Press Officer Bryan Black tells us, "HHSC staff estimates many of the individuals who will become eligible for SNAP under the new policy reside in or will join households that are already receiving snap benefits. As a result, HHSC does not anticipate there will be a significant volume of new work for the agency and process."

Sober living specialist Pace Lawson says this will benefit those dealing with drug issues and want to get back on their feet.

"Starting a new way of life, rebuilding their life, getting a job the first couple of paychecks come in they got to find a safe and supportive place to live. A little bit of assistance right off the bat would be of great benefit to them," says Lawson.

The High Plains Food Bank deals first-hand with families receiving snap benefits. Executive Director Zack Wilson says they receive around 200 applications a month for the program. Should they see an influx, Wilson says they are well prepared.

"Along with our food distribution that we do, we see this as really a big piece of what we do in helping someone put more food on the table. And that's why we dedicate a full-time person to this and that's how the process works here in the food bank," says Wilson.

The change will not come without rules, however. Felons will have to comply with the conditions of their parole and cannot commit a second offense while on the assistance. Felons will still be ineligible for cash help through welfare and the new policy will take effect September 1st.

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