USDA Applauds Washington’s Tribal Eligibility Demonstration Project Expansion
Demonstration gives additional tribal communities increased program access and autonomy
San Francisco, June 15, 2023 – USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has approved Washington Department of Social and Health Services’ request to expand their Tribal Eligibility Demonstration Project to five additional tribal nations. Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, shared the news at an event yesterday on Port Gamble S’Klallam tribal lands.
Cheryl Miller, on behalf of the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, welcomed Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Stacy Dean and other guests before sitting down to discuss the successful pilot project.
“USDA strives to support indigenous health, advance racial equity and reduce barriers to SNAP participation. This Tribal Eligibility Determination Project Expansion in Washington is an important part of that effort,” said Stacy Dean, deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “We’re continually working to make it easier for all people, but especially for those who have been historically unable, to access the nutrition assistance they need and deserve.”
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) demonstration pilot project began in 2009 with one Washington state tribe: the Port Gamble S’Klallam, located on northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula. This pilot program has allowed Port Gamble S’Klallam to operate a Community Service Office (CSO), which acts as a DSHS local office and can perform eligibility and certification activities related to SNAP benefits. Located within and managed by Port Gamble S’Klallam’s Children & Family Services Department, all program staff are employed directly by Port Gamble S’Klallam.
The expansion will include the following five tribal nations:
- Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
- Lummi Nation
- Quileute Tribe
- Quinault Indian Nation
- Spokane Tribe of Indians
The pilot’s intent was to increase program access to serve Native American SNAP clients living in a remote area of the state with limited transportation. Evaluation data indicates Port Gamble S’Klallams CSO is providing good customer service to households and performing well on measures of application processing timeliness and payment accuracy. This office, located on Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, serves anyone who needs access to these services, regardless of their affiliation with the tribe, filling a need for the local population.
“The success of this pilot program demonstrates the need,” said Cheryl Miller, Director, Port Gamble S’Klallam Children & Family Services. “The CSO nearest to ours is several towns over. The people we serve often have limited transportation options, work or childcare restrictions, or other barriers that inhibit their ability to access services. We appreciate the ability to manage a local CSO, thank our program partners, and applaud the decision to expand the program to additional Washington tribes.”
“DSHS and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe have invested in building strong relationships and partnerships together that last,” said DSHS Secretary Jilma Meneses. “For more than three decades we have worked to provide wraparound services to tribal community members and the surrounding area. Our intergovernmental partnership has been successful because of close collaboration, training and support, and we look forward to deepening our partnerships with more tribes throughout Washington state to help reduce barriers and improve access to vital services like SNAP benefits.”
As the cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition assistance safety net, SNAP is one of the most powerful tools available to ensure low-income people have access to healthy food. Currently, around 42 million low-income Americans participate in SNAP.
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 on Twitter.
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