2002 Competitive Research Grants To Improve Access
Name of Organization: Project Bread- The Walk for Hunger, Inc
Target Group(s): Low-income working and unemployed; homeless and unemployed veterans; and, elderly.
Summary of Project: Project Bread, the state’s leading anti-hunger agency, works closely with the Commonwealth in creating and implementing outreach strategies to improve access to a range of federal nutrition programs. The program aims to develop and test a range of methods to increase Massachusetts residents’ participation in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). This will be accomplished by pursuing three principle goals: generate an efficient, widely replicable method through which low-income families and individuals are able to determine that they are likely eligible for food stamps; to reduce the stigma associated with the FSP by creating a new context through which applicants can access benefits; and, enable potential clients to more effectively navigate the food stamp application process from community locations where they routinely spend time. The project targets a combination of urban and rural communities in order to tackle the distinct needs of people in these settings.
Name of Organization: Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties
Target Group(s): Low-income working and unemployed individuals and families; and, immigrants.
Summary of Project: The organization proposes to conduct a research study to test the effectiveness of a multi-level marketing approach combined with community-based outreach and public education to increase food stamp participation. The study will also address the barriers to participation including the perception of ineligibility, the inconvenience of the application process, and the negative social stigma. The targeted population is Hispanic immigrants and low-income families and individuals residing in the Santa Cruz and San Benito counties of Central California. The project will evaluate the results from using outreach workers to educate and assist clients with the new, simplified California application; training “Promotores” (community peer volunteers) for face-to-face interaction and trust building relationships with the clients; and, the public education campaign which includes print, radio and television media.
Name of Organization: Illinois Hunger Coalition
Target Group(s): Employed and unemployed low-income families (includes sizeable group who left TANF and sizeable immigrant population).
Summary of Project: This research project will implement, test and evaluate innovative technology - a web-based screening tool that assesses eligibility for food stamps, calculates benefit levels based on income and household size, and produces a completed application form ready for signature. The project will evaluate strategies for mailing and faxing applications to DHS offices completed by trained staff for employed or disabled persons, followed by phone interviews with a DHS worker. IHC will sub-contract with Community Catalyst, a private, non-profit organization based in Boston devoted to national health advocacy. The project also plans to test a school-based outreach effort through a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools.
Name of Organization: Food Bank of Delaware
Target Group(s): Low-income employed and unemployed.
Summary of Project: The Food Bank of Delaware (FBD), in partnership with Delaware Health and Social Services, Division of Social Services (DSS), and the University of Delaware’s Center for Community Research and Service, intends to conduct FSP outreach activities that implement measurable approaches to effectively improve FSP access and increase present food stamp enrollment. Outreach methods include: partnering with the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension Office to pre-screen enrollees in the existing Life Skills Program; partnering with existing non-profit Food Bank member agencies and State Service Centers to pre-screen and assist potential food stamp recipients in completing the application process; and, using the web to disseminate updated FSP information and a one-page pre-screening tool.
Name of Organization: Connecticut Association for Human Services
Target Group(s): Low-income families; current and recent TANF recipients; elderly; and, immigrants and non-English speaking minorities.
Summary of Project: The Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) intends to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the FSP in Bridgeport. The Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (BCAC) will be the local non-profit agency partnering in these efforts, and a local advisory committee will guide the project. CAHS will collaborate with the State and local food stamp offices on data collection. This project is designed to test two models of increasing food stamp enrollment among eligible non-participants. Using community linkages and trained outreach workers, CAHS will educate potential eligible people about the nutritional benefits of the FSP and the application process.
Summary of Project: The ACORN Institute, in conjunction with the Institute and two partner community-based organizations, New Jersey ACORN and New Jersey ACORN Housing Corporation, will measure the effectiveness of four community-based outreach strategies through: grocery stores, local schools, door-to-door canvassing, and high volume sites in Jersey City, NJ. They will also test the effectiveness of providing pre-screening and application assistance to potential applicants in non-governmental offices and other community locations. Additionally, the local food stamp office will dedicate two days per month exclusively to enroll people reached, one day in the food stamp office and one off-site, which in turn will add direct enrollment efforts. ACORN Institute will also develop systems to track the number of people reached, pre-screened, applying and enrolled in the FSP through each outreach method, as well as the hours spent on each outreach method, and cost. They plan to evaluate the overall time and cost-effectiveness of each strategy to be able to identify possible enrollment barriers throughout all the stages of the process.
Name of Organization: Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana, Inc.
Target Group(s): Newly unemployed; working poor; and, low-income people of all ages including senior citizens in 9 counties.
Summary of Project: The project will target the newly unemployed, working poor, and low-income people of all ages (including senior citizens) in Allen, Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties. Current participation in the FSP in the area is low due to confusion as to eligibility requirements and application procedures, perceived “shame” in going to the food stamp office, and food stamp office hours that are incompatible with the schedules of the working poor. Community Harvest Food Bank will hire four Food Stamp Outreach Associates to take applications from potential food stamp recipients through direct service programs, through member agencies’ programs and pantries, and at select Kroger stores within the participating counties. By going to where the food stamp candidates already are, it will offer “one-stop shopping” and eliminate the time-consuming step of going to the local food stamp office several different times in order to complete the application process.
Name of Organization: Maternity Care Coalition
Target Group(s): Former TANF recipients; and, isolated under-served populations with low English literacy.
Summary of Project: Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) will implement the MOMobile® Program to access the best working strategies to increase enrollment in the FSP and thereby decrease food insecurity among eligible but non-participating vulnerable pregnant women and families with very young children. MCC’s MOMobile® Program will provide outreach, health promotion education, and family support to more than 3,000 families per year in neighborhoods with high rates of infant mortality, child abuse, and poverty by having MCC’s community health workers make regular home visits to families in brightly colored minivans. These workers will also be trained to provide the three levels of intervention: education, pre-screening and direct application assistance. They will target individuals in Montgomery and Delaware counties who have difficulties accessing the FSP.
Name of Organization: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Target Group(s): Elderly in 9 counties.
Summary of Project: The North Carolina Division of Aging (DOA) in cooperation with the Division of Social Services (DSS) intends to conduct a cost-effective research project to improve outreach and access to the FSP for eligible older adults living in South Central North Carolina. They plan to test strategies to reduce and overcome the number of barriers impeding eligible older adults from applying for food stamps, and will produce research findings on the cost-effectiveness of each strategy. The project will employ a design similar to a quasi-experimental design with internal and external comparison groups.
Name of Organization: Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
Target Group(s): Low-income unemployed and working families with children.
Summary of Project: The greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger proposes to test two approaches to developing public/private partnerships that encourage eligible, but non-participating residents to register for food stamps. The first approach will test a “one-stop shopping public benefits and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)” information and enrollment campaign. The second approach will be a volunteer-based recruitment and training effort that will engage students and communities of faith in food stamp pre-screening and enrollment of potential clients. The Philadelphia Campaign for Working Families is establishing a high-quality, accessible system for the filing of EITC applications. By providing information and access to other public benefits and entitlements, the Campaign is creating “one-stop shopping” sites throughout the city. Some Campaign staff will be based at neighborhood sites such as libraries and schools. The second approach will turn to volunteers drawn from local faith-based organizations and campus-based, service-learning projects to reach out to potentially eligible food stamp participants currently frequenting soup kitchens, food cupboards, community school centers, and supermarkets.
Name of Organization: The Kentucky Task Force on Hunger
Target Group(s): Former recipient of TANF; able- bodied adults without dependents; low-income working poor families with children, elderly, and, immigrants.
Summary of Project: The project proposes to address barriers to participation such as confusion about eligibility, lack of information about the FSP, insensitive and misinformed caseworkers, transportation difficulties, inconvenient office hours, lengthy and difficult application process, and language barriers. The barriers will be addressed by the use of Community Resource Advocates, who are caseworkers from poor and low-income backgrounds that will provide accurate information in a sensitive manner. They will also train staff from twelve partner agencies such as emergency food centers, senior centers, WIC offices, etc. With the assistance of the Advocates, the partner agencies will also extend their hours of operation. Transportation issues will be addressed with the participation of the Red Cross Wheels transportation service. A project coordinator will work with the Food Stamp Advisory Committee to develop and test a simplified application form that will eventually be available on-line.
Name of Organization: Muskegon Community Health Project, Inc.
Summary of Project: The Muskegon Community Health Project (MCHP), in partnership with 10 human and social service agencies from 3 counties, will strengthen and coordinate relationships among nutrition assistance providers to increase awareness and participation in the FSP and to improve access to the FSP. Their objectives are to develop a secure computer subsystem for project data collection and maintenance; educate 4,000 persons about the benefits, eligibility rules, and application procedures of the FSP; assist 2,000 persons to participate in the FSP; identify barriers to participation in the FSP process; develop strategies to overcome barriers to participation in the FSP; and, evaluate project outcomes.
Name of Organization: Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger
Target Group(s): Eligible individuals and families
Summary of Project: The Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger (VTCECH) will launch a program to investigate the effectiveness of mass-marketing techniques and the World Wide Web to increase participation in the state’s FSP. A web site that describes how the FSP works, who is eligible, how to apply, and the economic and nutrition benefits of the FSP will be developed. This site will address barriers to participation, including misperceptions of eligibility and the stigma often associated with benefits programs, and privacy and confidentiality concerns. It will also include a confidential FSP eligibility pre-screening tool and an electronic application request function. Furthermore, the web site will be publicized through a statewide mass-marketing campaign, with a special focus on increasing access through the use of public computers.
Name of Organization: Salem Keizer School District 24J
Target Group(s): Low-income working families; immigrants; and, former TANF families.
Summary of Project: The Salem-Keizer School District, Willamette University and the State Department of Human Services will partner to research the effectiveness of innovative ways to improve the participation rates for FSP benefits in Salem. Their tested model will be a school-based outreach, education, and enrollment program. The schools will incorporate food stamp pre-screening and enrollment into their Family Health Coordinators’ resource plans, which will be accessible at the school site for families in need. They will also partner with Oregon State University (in-kind contribution) to have each school offer adult education classes for parents and community members in shopping for maximum use of benefits as well as making culturally appropriate, nutritious meals from locally available products.
Name of Organization: Human Service Coalition of Dade County
Target Group(s): Working individuals and families.
Summary of Project: The Human Services Coalition of Miami-Dade County, Inc. (HSC) will enroll low-income employees through businesses, welfare-to-work agencies and job retraining agencies using roving “fringe benefits specialists” and RealBenefits, an internet-based toolset that allows calculations of food stamp eligibility and award amounts. HSC will target low-income employees of businesses affiliated with the Miami-Dade County regional and bi-national Chambers of Commerce. They will test the potential of increasing enrollment in the FSP through a new strategy of partnership-building with the business community in Miami-Dade County.
Name of Organization: Food Bank of Central New York
Target Group(s): Low-income unemployed and underemployed; former TANF recipients; elderly; immigrants; and, Non-English speaking minorities.
Summary of Project: The Food Bank of Central New York plans to help people access the FSP by informing potential participants of program benefits and requirements while facilitating applications through technology and community partnerships. Community-based organization staff and volunteers will be trained to pre-screen individuals for food stamp eligibility. They will utilize a CD disc that contains a series of questions. Further assistance will be provided in completing the county food stamp application form in a confidential manner.
Name of Organization: Community Action Program for Madison County, Inc.
Target Group(s): Former TANF recipients; elderly; and, working poor.
Summary of Project: Madison County plans to increase food stamp participation by 25%. It plans to reduce the stigma associated with applying for food stamps by promoting the nutritional benefits of the program. Madison County will conduct its research by having participants process their applications through the Internet and partnerships. Participants will be pre-screened for eligibility and will fill out applications on-line.
Name of Organization: City of Atlantic, NJ
Target Group(s): Elderly; English and Spanish speaking minorities.
Summary of Project: The City will develop procedures and methods to encourage greater use of food stamps by building partnerships with organizations such as the Atlantic City Housing Authority, Atlantic Human Resources, Inc., Spanish Community Center, and the Atlantic County Department of Family and Community Development, the office that administers the FSP. The City proposes a “one-stop-shopping” approach in which, they will pre-screen clients, take applications, ensure all verifications are in place and forward the applications to the County food stamp office. Some of the pre-screenings and application assistance will occur at City Hall.
Name of Organization: Community Action Project of Tulsa County
Target Group(s): Working and unemployed families; former TANF recipients; Spanish speaking immigrants; elderly; and, disabled.
Summary of Project: Community Action Project of Tulsa County (CAP) will conduct an 18-month research project to improve access to the FSP. CAP will conduct this project with the use of new technology and partnerships. The Internet will be used to facilitate access to food stamp forms and applications. CAP will pre-screen potential recipients, through the Internet, to see if they are eligible for the FSP. CAP will train its staff in this program so they can better assist their clients.