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Houston Food Bank CEO says Biden executive order could help local families, economy

The executive order asks the USDA to let states increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by 15%.

HOUSTON — The head of the Houston Food Bank said an executive order signed Friday by President Joe Biden to increase benefits for people struggling to afford food could help families and the economy in Southeast Texas.

The executive order asks the USDA to let states increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits by 15%. Families can use them to buy food at the grocery store.

The order also requests a 15% benefit boost on a program for low-income students missing school meals during the pandemic.

The White House says that measure could provide a family with three kids more than $100 of extra support every two months.

“We like this for a couple of reasons,” said Brian Greene, CEO of Houston Food Bank. “First off, the more that families don’t need the organizations like the food bank, the better. And, they’re able to then take that money and then go to the supermarket, take care of their needs. That’s a big deal. It’s also a good multiplier for the economy.”

Greene says the food bank is distributing around 800,000 pounds of food each day. While it’s not as high as the pandemic peak, it’s still much higher than the 450,000 pounds per day pre-pandemic.

“The good news is, the lines have stabilized,” said Greene. “The bad news is, they’ve stabilized at a much higher rate than what we were seeing pre-pandemic.”

State records show more than 400,000 people in the Houston area were enrolled in SNAP in December, with many more eligible.

Houston Food Bank assists families with enrolling in SNAP at 713-223-3700 or www.houstonfoodbank.org/find-help/snap.