Texas food banks call on legislators to increase funding for Surplus Ag Grant
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Funding for Texas food banks is needed now more than ever. The cost of produce items is at an all-time high, and increased pandemic SNAP benefits will soon fall back in March.
The East Texas Food Bank continues to break records in total food distribution.
“Last year we distributed about 14 million pounds of fresh produce. Never before have we done that, and we’re on pace to do about 15 million this year, and you know it’s putting a drain on our budget right now,” said East Texas Food Bank CEO Dennis Cullinane.
That is why food banks are turning to legislators to increase funding for the Surplus Agriculture Grant, a grant that has been given to organizations for years that allows food banks to obtain food from farmers who have overproduced or have secondary products they can’t sell.
“We’re looking at doubling that grant I think, going from 10 million dollars for the biennium to 20 million dollars for the biennium. It’s going to be so important for us to be able to continue to serve more and more fresh produce,” said Cullinane.
State Representative Travis Clardy said this year’s unprecedented budgetary surplus is going to help make that increase.
“This is a good way for us to use our resources. Particularly in a time of abundance, with a 33 billion dollar surplus. That’s with a ‘B’ not an ‘M.’ Add to that the rainy day fund and other dedicated funds, we’re probably upwards of 50 billion dollars that are available to be invested in the future of Texas.”
The legislature is already working to make change during their 88th session.
“The appropriations committee is already meeting, so that’s the one that deals with the budget in the house. There’s a senate financial committee in the senate, so we’ll begin looking at places where we can move money and apply money where we think is most needed.”
The East Texas Food Bank plans to travel to Austin this April to follow up with legislators about the program.
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