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FNS Awards $623,950 to Dakota County Department of Employment and Economic Assistance to Make Technology-Centered Improvements in SNAP Customer Service

Press Release
Contact: FNS Press Team

CHICAGO, September 22, 2022 – USDA Food and Nutrition Service today awarded Dakota County Department of Employment and Economic Assistance a $623,950 grant to support their efforts to enhance efficiency and access in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The multi-year SNAP Process and Technology Improvement Grant seeks to improve the experience of SNAP participants by enabling grantees to update inefficient or ineffective processes and use technology to streamline operations and provide better customer service.

“Process and technology improvements play an important role in making it easier for those who access nutrition assistance programs to get the healthy food they need,” said FNS Administrator Cindy Long. “Through these grants, we can make further progress in ensuring SNAP is working for the people who rely on its benefits to feed themselves and their families.”

The Dakota County Department of Employment and Economic Assistance will utilize the $623,950 grant to implement a modern, robust contact center. The project will modernize and expand the agency’s self-service and communication options for clients, including language access.

“USDA’s nutrition assistance programs – including SNAP – have a crucial role in addressing both food insecurity and nutrition insecurity,” said Midwest Regional Administrator, Vista Fletcher. “Through initiatives like this grant, FNS hopes to improve the customer experience of nutrition security programs by putting the needs of applicants and participants at the center of anything that is created.”

Additional grants are being awarded to:

  • Montana Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Colorado Department of Human Services;
  • New York City Human Resources Administration; and
  • New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Each awardee will use grant funds to make technological improvements such as making mobile and online applications easier to use, implementing live call centers with Interactive Voice Response, or improving accessibility for digitally underserved populations. The grantees will have three years to spend funds and complete their projects.

“Our goal is always to work with our partners to make our systems and programs easier for those receiving our services – in this case, SNAP recipients – to access their benefits,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner Tikki Brown. “This grant holds exciting promise to learn more about doing that through technology.”

These grants build on the Administration’s commitment to modernizing programs, reducing administrative burdens, and piloting new online tools and technologies that can provide a simple, seamless, and secure customer experience.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) leverages its 15 nutrition assistance programs to ensure that children, low-income individuals, and families have opportunities for a better future through equitable access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food, while building a more resilient food system. Under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, FNS is fighting to end food and nutrition insecurity for all through programs such as SNAP, school meals, and WIC. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To learn more, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.

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09/22/2022