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Food banks to help with food stamps interviews

This sounds like a good idea.

Houston’s food bank will begin helping qualify eligible Texans for food stamps on Monday under special authority from federal officials designed to shorten long wait times.

The waiver will allow food banks in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth to handle food stamp applications directly. Food bank officials in those cities will have access to state computers to make sure applicants are eligible and not already receiving food assistance.

The interviews that food bank employees conduct with applicants no longer will have to be repeated by state employees.

The interviews take about 30 minutes. The San Antonio Food Bank expects to handle up to 3,000 applications per month, which would save the state staff roughly 1,500 hours. Houston Food Bank officials said they do not have as many applicants — Bexar County has a more sophisticated outreach program — and they expect to process 500 applicants per month, which would save state employees about 250 hours.

“It’s a natural fit for us to be able to help those needy get food stamps, so we think this is potentially very big,” said Brian Greene, president and CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “This should have a significant impact both on the number of families who are eligible to receive food stamps and reducing the waiting time for the families.”

Every little bit helps, and this is a sensible solution that can help right away. We still need to fix the underlying problems, but anything that gets more people the assistance they need faster is worth doing.

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