I serve as the President and CEO of Central Texas Food Bank, the leading hunger relief organization in Central Texas feeding over 44,000 people each week. I am commenting on the proposed “public charge” rule because of the devastating effects this policy could have on many of the people we serve.
Our food bank clients not only receive food and services from our organization, but also frequently participate in public benefit programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, CHIP, and housing assistance. These programs are necessary to their families’ health and productivity, and often prevent them from slipping further into poverty.
We do not ask for citizenship status when providing our clients with food. However, I am confident that many of our clients have one or more people in their household who are not United States citizens. It is not uncommon for households to have mixed status, such as first-generation immigrant parents raising U.S. citizen children.
If this proposal were to be adopted as a rule, it would create confusion among these families about what public benefit programs they could access. Additionally, if they determined that accessing these programs could jeopardize their future immigration status, they would likely forego using them. This would greatly put their health and food security at risk.
State and local governments would bear increased costs in serving these families’ needs. Local nonprofits, such as food banks and pantries, would see increased traffic and may not be able to adequately fill the gap. Currently, for every 12 meals SNAP provides, the nationwide network of food banks provide one.
I urge you to not adopt this rule. Our immigrant families provide strength and value to our communities, and should be supported as they seek a path to citizenship.
President and CEO, Central Texas Food Bank