USDA Opens Grants Application to Improve SNAP Customer Service
New application requirements designed to enhance the customer experience and promote fairness and equity in the program
WASHINGTON, April 26, 2022 – The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service today announced that $5 million in competitive grants are being made available to enhance efficiency and access in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through process and technology improvements.
The SNAP Process and Technology Improvement Grants are awarded through a competitive application process. The multi-year grants seek to improve the experience of SNAP participants by enabling grantees to update inefficient or ineffective processes or use technology to streamline operations and provide better customer service. The application process also requires grant applicants to demonstrate how their initiatives will affect SNAP with respect to equity and inclusion, which supports the Administration’s focus on advancing racial equity.
“FNS is deeply committed to improving SNAP so that all Americans can get the healthy food they need,” said Stacy Dean, USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services. “By putting the needs of SNAP applicants and recipients at the center of this grant initiative, we can harness changes in processes and technology to drive toward the end goal of making SNAP work for the people who use it to feed themselves and their families.”
Previous grantees have used funding for SNAP improvements such as making mobile applications easier to use, implementing live call centers, or creating automated text messaging notifications to remind households of key actions required to maintain benefits. Once awarded, grantees have three years to spend funds and complete their projects.
For example, the Mississippi Department of Human Services, a 2017 grantee, partnered with the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center to update their mobile applications to better meet the needs of SNAP participants. The enhancements have improved the recertification process by allowing SNAP clients to use their phones and other mobile devices to receive notices, get case status updates, upload verification documents, and check their electronic benefits balance.
This year’s PTIG applicants will be required to address at least one of the following priority areas:
- Increasing the use of technology-based tools to expand enrollment of underserved populations;
- Aiding in the transition from pandemic operations and improving disaster response operations; and/or
- Modernizing SNAP customer service, client communication, and administrative processes to improve accessibility, transparency, and responsiveness.
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.
Eligible entities include:
- State and local agencies that administer SNAP;
- State or local governments;
- Agencies providing health or welfare services;
- Public health or educational entities; and
- Private non-profit entities, such as community-based or faith-based organizations, food banks, or other emergency feeding organizations.
The request for applications opens today, and all applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST, June 27, 2022. The three-year grants will be announced in fall 2022. For more information, please visit the FY 2022 SNAP Process and Technology Improvement Grants website. FNS will award bonus points to applications from groups that have not previously received PTIG funding to promote capacity building through technology and process improvements.
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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