Benefit Bank partnering with SMCISD to help create new one-stop help centers
The San Marcos CISD is hosting several sites for local families in need – helping them find food for their families, health care, prescription assistance, education grants and other support options.
The Texas Health Institute has provided web-based systems used by trained professionals to connect low and moderate income families with supports and benefits.
Called The Benefit Bank (TBB), the program is a free, one-stop registration process for benefits such as food assistance (SNAP), health insurance for children (CHIP), help with student financial aid (FAFSA), health care assistance (Medicaid), TANF cash assistance, veteran’s education and training benefits, voter registration and federal income tax returns.
According to the Texas Health Institute, thousands of Texas families don’t claim an estimated $8.3 billion annually in available federal support because of lack of information about eligibility.
The federal poverty level in Texas is 17.1 percent based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 poverty population numbers. The mission of TBB is to connect those who need it with available resources.
Hilary Kouhana is coordinating the implementation of the program at San Marcos CISD. She says services offered through TBB have a dual benefit to the community.
“While reducing poverty, hunger and homelessness, the support systems put in place help build the local economy through improved employment, education, and back-to-work success rates,” Kouhana said.
Sites are open specific days and times of the week for families in need. Sites are at each of the six elementary schools, two middle schools, San Marcos High School, Child Development Center, Lamar Annex and Central Office. Calling for an appointment is preferred.
• Bowie Elementary: Tuesdays, 1-3 p.m./Thursdays, 2-4 p.m.
• Crockett Elementary: Mondays, 7:30-11:30 a.m./Fridays, 1-3 p.m.
• De Zavala Elementary: Thursdays, 9-11 a.m./Wednesdays, 3-5 p.m.
• Hernandez Elementary: Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m./Mondays, 10 -11 a.m. by appointment
• Mendez Elementary: Tuesdays, 12:30-3:30 p.m./Wednesdays, 9-10:30 a.m. by appointment
• Travis Elementary: Wednesdays, 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.
• Goodnight Middle School: Thursdays and Fridays by appointment calling 393-6559
• Miller Middle School: Thursdays, 1:30-3:30 p.m./Wednesdays, 1-3 p.m.
• San Marcos High School: Mondays 8 a.m. – 1 p.m./Tuesdays 9-11 a.m.
• Child Development Center: Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – noon at the Phoenix location
• Phoenix/Attendance at Lamar: Monday- Friday, 10 a.m. – noon/Fridays 2-4 p.m.
• Central Office Building: Wednesdays, 1-4:30 p.m. by appointment only at 393-6764.
For general information about the SMCISD sites, call Kouhana at 393-6899, 393-6916, or email her at Hilary.Kouhana@smcisd.net.
The Hays County United Way is sponsoring three of the district sites, and the Texas Health Institute underwrites the rest of the SMCISD sites. United Way-Hays County Executive Director Michelle Harper can be reached at 353-1420 or by email at email@example.com for more information.
Community members can also register with The Benefit Bank at the general site serving all of Hays County at 1901 Dutton Drive, Suite C, in San Marcos. That site’s telephone number is 753-2201.
This office will take walk in applications, as well as assist citizens with completing the application. Tax preparation information is at the San Marcos Library through April 15 on all Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and on Mondays from 3-6 p.m.
Kouhana says that – according to government reports – Texas is the second hungriest state in the nation (behind only Arkansas) with17.4 percent of Texas households as risk of hunger between 2007 and 2009.
“With unclaimed federal resources there for the asking, there is no reason our local families should experience hunger. San Marcos CISD is here to help connect the links,” she said.