eat, and we should not be putting them in that position.” Moreno said. Personnel shortages and bureaucratic delays are also common food stamp problems in Texas. but they only exacerbate the two main shortcomings of the program: the insulting food stamp eligibility process and the inadequacy of food stamp benefits. “We are men of dignity. We are ashamed to be at the food stamp office on a daily basis, begging for a meager amount of stamps,” explained Jose Castro of the United Farm Workers of America at the Valley hearing. ” the Reagan administration has actually used the bureaucratic reporting requirements for the purpose of reducing the number of people receiving assistance.” Sen. Hugh Parmer The fact that food stamp benefits do not provide a complete diet or last all month not only affects recipients, but also the emergency agencies trying to feed them. “We are experiencing a large number of people at the beginning of the month coming to us. A number of these are people who have not received their food stamps, noted Nancy Gehlbach, director of Food for People in Waco. “We also see a tremendous increase toward the end of the month when people have run out of food stamps,” she added. The committee has also been uncovering serious hunger and undernutrition among the aged population. A recentlycompleted committee survey of elderly nutrition programs found that many seniors depended upon their group meals or home-delivered meal for their main, or only, source of nutrition. For those without such meal services, the results can be tragic. “In July of 1981, we took a survey of one of the areas in Houston that had a need for home-delivered meals,” detailed Thelma Pierre, director of a meals-onwheels project for Houston Metropolitan Ministries, at a hearing last December. “The survey we took showed there were 64 persons in that immediate community that had the need just then, but we were unable to provide services for them. In November of 1983.” said Pierre, “we were provided funding for those particular persons. What we found was that only 27 of them were still alive. Emergency food programs all over the state were commended for their efforts to feed the needy. “The testimony that we heard further reinforces my belief that were it not for the volunteer organizations private, charitable organizations people would literally starve in the streets,” said Senator Uribe. Nonetheless, committee witnesses consistently stressed the point that private aid mechanisms are stretched to the limit in trying to provide food to the hungry. Many also called for more government support in getting food to people. “Efforts such as ours will never be a substitute for a sound and rational system of federal and state entitlement programs.” asserted Dave Williams, director of the Houston Area Food Bank that distributes millions of pounds of donated food annually. In the federal arena, however, food assistance programs have been significantly cut in the last several years. “The so-called ‘safety net’ that the Reagan administration allegedly created in the past has holes throughout,” said Senator Uribe. “A lot of the poverty is directly related to Reagan economic policy,” he added. “Many of the problems are federal in nature, either created by federal neglect or federal insensitivity or federal failure.” Increasing amounts of government red tape have also made it harder for the poor to get food. “It’s clear to me,” said Senator Parmer, “that the Reagan administration has actually used the bureaucratic reporting requirements for the purpose of reducing the number of people receiving assistance.” Though state politicians are eager to blame circumstances at the federal level for the worsening hunger situation, state negligence is also evident. And the State of Texas, which has historically shortchanged social services and only given crumbs to food relief, will likely continue to ignore the hunger crisis. The legislature appears content to foreswear public responsibility as long as the private sector tries to plug the hole in the dike. The attitude of Senator John Whitmire, a hunger committee member from Houston. is perhaps representative of many legislators’ sentiments. “There is hunaer, he commented. “It’s alarming. It’s severe. But I think it’s being kept manageable at the present time with the help of churches and the private sector.” said Whitmire. “I personally would like to see additional funding, but I just don’t think that’s realistic.” Senator Parmer, the committee chair, while seeing the need for state aid, is also cautious about the approach. “I think the first thing you have to do is document and clearly demonstrate to the public and the legislature, that there is Information for Historians, Researchers, Nostalgia Buffs, & Observer Fans Bound Volumes: The 1983 bound issues of The Texas Observer are now ready. In maroon, washable binding, the price is $20. Also available at $20 each are volumes for the years 1963 through 1982. Cumulative Index: The clothbound cumulative edition of The Texas Observer Index covering the years 1954-1970 may be obtained for 520. The newly published 1971-1981 index $30 Back Issues: Issues dated January 10. 1963, to the present are available at $1 each. Earlier issues are out of stock, but photocopies of articles from issues dated December 13, 1954 through December 27. 1962 will he provided at $1 per article. Microfilm: The complete backfile dividual years may be ordered separately. To order, or to obtain additional information regarding the 35mm microfilm editions, please write to Univ. Microfilms Intl.. 300 N. Geeb Road, Ann Arbor. Michigan 48106. to the Observer Business Office. Texas residents please add the 55 1\( sales tax to your remittance. Materials will be sent postpaid. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th ST. AUSTIN 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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