Tentative debt ceiling deal could increase requirements for SNAP recipients

The U.S. House is expected to vote on the deal Wednesday, May 31

SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of Texans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The need for food assistance has only grown locally and across the country since the pandemic.

“If it wasn’t for the SNAP benefits, I wouldn’t have even known how to feed my children at the time,” said a current SNAP recipient who asked to remain anonymous

A tentative debt deal in Congress could make it tougher for some Americans to qualify. The agreement would expand work requirements for SNAP.

Work requirements already exist for most able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 to 49, according to Texas Health and Human Services.

The bill would phase in higher age limits, bringing the maximum age to 54 by 2025. But the provision expires, bringing the maximum age back down to age 49 five years later, in 2030, reported the Associated Press.

“If they cut snap a little bit, it could mean the food bank would have to double in size, and right now, with the amount of food I have, I can’t do that,” said Eric Cooper, CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank

San Antonio Food Bank CEO Eric Cooper told KSAT stricter requirements could force SNAP recipients to find other options, like the food bank.

Cooper added this comes as the food bank enters its busiest season, summer.

“It’s when kids are missing their school lunch and breakfast, they’re home so child care costs go up for families, summer heat brings high utility bills” Cooper explained.

According to HHS, as of April, nearly 122-thousand people received SNAP benefits in Bexar County. Guadalupe County has almost 6,000, and Comal has just over 4,000.

Snap recipients by county - April 2023. (KSAT, Texas HHSC)

The debt deal SNAP changes are still just a proposal. However, the U.S. House is expected to vote on the deal Wednesday, May 31.

Cooper says regardless of Congress’s decision, food costs and demand are still an issue.


About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.