Dear Mr. Meconi:
I am writing you today to urge full consideration of food stamp policy options which can improve customer service and streamline program administration. Such choices promote program access and more efficient management.
Enclosed is a brief summary of two sets of options. The first set is from the fiscal year (FY) 2002 Farm Bill. The second set existed before enactment of the Farm Bill. I am bringing these options to your attention now, not only because they allow state agencies to administer with more flexibility and promote access for participants, but also because they can help state agencies address the budget difficulties many are experiencing. I believe you will find that these options, individually or in combination, can improve efficiency and reduce pressure on state agency staff.
Additionally, the Food and Nutrition Service has developed a report on the choices states have made among the various policy options through April 4, 2002. A copy is enclosed. The report is also available on the Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services website. I hope you will find the report useful as you consider policy options.
While most of the Farm Bill creates new choices for states, there are several mandatory features of the bill and I would like to draw your attention to one in particular. Food stamp eligibility has been restored to most legal immigrants including the following groups: 1) those receiving disability benefits, regardless of entry date (effective FY 2003); 2) those under 18, regardless of entry date (effective FY 2004); and 3) those who have lived in the United States continuously for 5 years as a qualified alien beginning on their date of entry (effective April 2003). I am asking states that use their own funds to provide a food stamp benefit to legal immigrants to give careful consideration to the continuity of benefits as they implement the immigrant provisions of the Farm Bill. Please contact us if you have any doubt as to eligible populations, effective dates, or other matters.
As always, I invite you to call upon me or my staff for any additional information we can provide to support you in your work.
Eric M. Bost
Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services