Texas SNAP benefits extended to hot and ready-to-eat meals amid winter storm recovery

Gov. Abbott announced the waiver applies to retailers across the state.

In the wake of the bitter Texas freeze that has impacted millions, vulnerable residents can now get access to hot, prepared meals through a federal program.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Sunday the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to use their food benefits to purchase hot foods and ready-to-eat meals.

"As we continue to recover from this winter storm, the state is ensuring that Texans in need have access to hot food to feed their families," Abbott said. "I thank our federal partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approving this waiver."

Wayne Salter, HHS Access and Eligibility Services deputy executive commissioner, said in a statement that the agency is "doing everything" possible for those who have been affected by the winter storm. "These added federal flexibilities will go a long way in helping SNAP clients feed their families," he said.

SNAP recipients can now use their benefits for hot foods and ready-to-eat foods, such as rotisserie chicken or other grocery store deli foods, at retailers that accept SNAP anywhere in the state.

The waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service allows the recipients to buy any ready-made foods with their Lone Star Cards through the end of March.

On Friday, Texas also got federal approval to allow SNAP recipients to apply for replacement benefits for food lost or destroyed due to the severe weather.

SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1.6 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Texas.