WASHINGTON - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced nearly $5 million in grants for eight State agencies to simplify Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application and eligibility systems and improve access to program benefits for America's low-income households. SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, helps ensure that people have access to healthy and nutritious food by providing low-income households with electronic benefits they can use to purchase food at authorized grocery stores.
"Collaborative partnerships are critical to combating food insecurity and hunger in our communities," said Vilsack. "These grants will help reach our goal of increasing program access and participation among America's most vulnerable citizens and to deliver healthy and nutritious food assistance to those in need."
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) continues to encourage relationships with private nonprofit organizations with strong community ties to enhance communication between the State agencies and the communities they serve. A priority for this year's grants is to fund a partnership between a State agency and one or more private non-profit organizations. Such collaboration enables the funding of projects which streamline a State's eligibility, certification and recertification processes and make them more efficient and effective.
SNAP is the cornerstone of the Nation's nutrition safety net. It is the largest of the USDA's 15 domestic nutrition assistance programs and provides crucial support and a vital supplement for low-income households to buy the food they need for good health, and helps many make the transition to self-sufficiency. Public, private, non-profit, and faith and community-based organizations play an important role in ensuring that all eligible people know about SNAP and USDA's other nutrition assistance programs.
The 8 grantees are:
Nebraska Health and Human Services: $824,611
South Carolina Office of Rural Health: $613,153
Oregon Department of Human Services: $638,527
California SAWS Consortium IV: $607,075
Texas Health and Human Services Commission: $301,811
Oklahoma Department of Human Services: $991,373
End Hunger Connecticut!, Inc.: $91,279
Virgin Islands Department of Human Services: $932,171
Working in collaboration with USDA, State agencies continue to enhance SNAP program integrity even as demand has increased in response to national economic conditions. Each state agency is responsible for monitoring and improving its administration of SNAP with the SNAP quality control system determining the accuracy of the eligibility decision and the benefits authorized. The national average level of program payment accuracy for FY 2009 is 95.64 percent, the sixth consecutive year the program has achieved a historically high rate. For the second straight year, the national negative error rate (a measure of denials, terminations and suspensions) also improved.
SNAP supports individuals and families in need by putting healthy foods within reach.