Food and Nutrition Service Invests in SNAP Integrity and Modernization
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2023 – USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is announcing a series of recent actions designed to elevate program integrity and usher in a new era of modernization for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP. These include publishing a proposed rule to modernize quality control, awarding a contract that will streamline state processing of SNAP applications and recertifications and awarding approximately $19 million across four grant programs to support 17 state and local agencies and partners in transformative projects to enhance SNAP.
“Ensuring that eligible participants receive timely, accurate and meaningful SNAP benefits is not just a matter of convenience; it’s what 42 million Americans rely on to put food on their tables,” said Stacy Dean, USDA deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “Strengthening SNAP by modernizing program administration, improving the participant experience and continually improving program integrity is a top priority for FNS. These pivotal steps bring us closer to that goal.”
Through a recent proposed rule, FNS is taking major steps toward modernizing SNAP’s quality control system, which measures how accurately SNAP state agencies determine a household’s eligibility and benefit amount, making it a valuable tool in ensuring program integrity. The proposed changes aim to improve the quality and timeliness of the data states collect, reduce the burden for households to verify their circumstances, and improve the effectiveness and timeliness of corrective actions to prevent future payment errors.
Further, four grants and one contract awarded in August and September 2023 will help ensure program operators and partners have the resources, support and capacity to deliver SNAP benefits efficiently and effectively. They include:
- SNAP Income Verification Contract: $198.7 million 5-year contract awarded to Equifax and Experian that will provide state agencies with expanded access to payroll databases that can be used to verify SNAP applicants’ and participants' employment and earnings. This is expected to reduce administrative burden for both states and applicants (applicants whose income can be verified by these services may not need to produce pay stubs), reduce payment errors, and improve customer service, including the timely processing of applications and recertifications, while also protecting consumer information.
- SNAP Fraud Framework Grants: $3 million awarded to five state agencies to advance recipient fraud prevention, detection and investigation efforts using best practices from the SNAP Fraud Framework.
- SNAP Process and Technology Improvement Grants: $5 million awarded to six state agencies and nonprofits to enhance the user experience with SNAP applications and notices and to improve customer service to SNAP participants.
- SNAP Longitudinal Data Project Grants: $3 million awarded to two state agencies to help establish research databases with eligibility, benefit and demographic information on SNAP households to enable research on SNAP participation over time and across state lines.
- SNAP Farmers and Markets Mobile Application Cooperative Agreement Award: $4 million awarded to National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs to provide SNAP recipients greater access to produce from local farmers.
USDA is dedicated to continually improving SNAP and ensuring it effectively serves those who rely on it the most. That includes providing all program participants with a modern, accessible and equitable experience. The actions announced today are part of this broader effort to modernize SNAP and make it easier for families to buy the foods they need for good health. Other SNAP modernization efforts include testing contactless mobile payments through pilot projects in select states, expanding SNAP online shopping and partnering with the National Grocers Association Foundation to help small and/or rural retailers get started with SNAP online shopping.
FNS’s efforts to modernize federal nutrition programs support the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experiences of the people it serves. The administration believes the government must deliver services more equitably and effectively, especially for those historically underserved.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutrition assistance programs, such as the school breakfast and lunch programs, WIC and SNAP. Together, these programs serve 1 in 4 Americans over the course of a year, promoting consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food essential to optimal health and well-being. FNS also provides science-based nutrition recommendations through the co-development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. FNS’s report, “Leveraging the White House Conference to Promote and Elevate Nutrition Security: The Role of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service,” highlights ways the agency will support the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, released in conjunction with the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September 2022. To learn more about FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov and follow @USDANutrition.
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