Operating Disaster SNAP with County Stakeholders

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) works with counties to efficiently operate the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) after a disaster.

County emergency management officials can use this webpage to learn more about entering into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with HHSC to better administer D-SNAP.

For information on other ways HHSC provides disaster assistance, visit the Disaster Assistance page.

What is D-SNAP?

D-SNAP offers short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from a disaster. The program is for people returning to their homes after a disaster who have electricity and access to grocery stores.

To be eligible, people must:

  • Live in a county that is approved for individual assistance under a major disaster declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • Experience a loss of income, the destruction of their home or another disaster-related expense, such as requiring temporary shelter or home repairs.
  • Not receive regular SNAP food benefits at the time of the disaster.
  • Meet certain income limits.

When is D-SNAP Administered?

HHSC evaluates whether to administer D-SNAP when at least half of the federally declared disaster area has property damage.

HHSC reviews U.S. Census Bureau data, property damage assessment reports from the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM), and county data to determine the impact of a disaster.

HHSC provides D-SNAP to a federally declared disaster area when:

  • The regular process for verifying SNAP eligibility cannot occur due to the effects of the disaster.
  • Eligibility criteria for D-SNAP helps the population affected by the disaster. D-SNAP can have less restrictive eligibility criteria, such as student status, alien status, or time limits on receiving SNAP benefits.
  • Those affected by the disaster would benefit most from certain D-SNAP rules, which can be less restrictive than SNAP rules. For example, D-SNAP can allow people who normally share benefits on the same Lone Star Card to have separate cards.
  • Commercial food retailers are available or will be available very soon.

Legislation on Disaster Preparation

Following Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas assessed federal, state and local responses, and recommended ways Texas could better prepare to withstand future disasters.

Following the commission’s Eye of the Storm report (PDF), the Texas Legislature in 2019 passed Senate Bill 981 and House Bill 2335 to improve coordination between HHSC and county governments in operating D-SNAP after a major disaster. SB 981 and HB 2335 modified Chapter 33, Subchapter A, of the Texas Human Resources Code.

HHSC must collaborate with local government officials to create a directory of local points of contact for the program and determine the best method for communication. Both agencies must evaluate, develop and maintain a list of potential in-person application sites that meet federal requirements, enter into memorandums of understanding that document the roles and responsibilities for the application sites, and share information about these collaboration strategies.

Coordination with Local Points of Contact

HHSC uses the county contact list maintained by TDEM when operating D-SNAP.

Following a major disaster and prior to operating D-SNAP, HHSC may request additional contact information for county staff aiding day-to-day operations of D-SNAP.

Identifying Potential In-Person Application Sites

Following a disaster, HHSC may determine that local eligibility offices are insufficient to manage a larger volume of D-SNAP applicants and coordinate with county emergency management officials to identify potential alternate sites.

HHSC encourages county emergency management officials to collaborate with the agency to identify potential in-person application sites before a disaster. County officials and HHSC may enter into an MOU outlining respective roles and responsibilities to determine the need for and location of sites for in-person applications.

Entering into an MOU

Step 1: Notify HHSC of Your Intent to Participate

Email our program staff an engagement letter (MS Word) using the template in the Training and Resources section below.

Use the Site Identification Checklist (MS Word) in the Training and Resources section below to identify potential application sites. The checklist can be submitted with an engagement letter or at any time after the MOU has been executed.

Step 2: Complete the MOU

After HHSC receives the engagement letter, it will begin developing the MOU.

HHSC will send the MOU to the county official authorized to contract on behalf of the county. The official then signs and returns the MOU to HHSC.

Once returned, an HHSC representative signs the MOU and provides a copy of the executed agreement to the county official. The agreement includes instructions for maintaining the list of potential in-person application sites.

Maintaining the In-Person Application Site List

The in-person application site list contains all potential sites and local points of contact identified by the county. The list is maintained by HHSC in the contract file for the executed MOU.

Changes to In-Person Application Sites or Local Points of Contact

County officials may add, change or remove an application site or local point of contact from the county’s in-person application site list by emailing our program staff. HHSC will email an updated in-person application site list once it’s completed.

Training and Resources

Counties should use the following resources to coordinate with HHSC in preparing for and operating D-SNAP.

Forms and Templates

Online Resources

Contact Us

If you have questions, email our program staff.

If you are looking for help or information about disaster assistance, visit the Disaster Assistance page.