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September 17, 2008

USDA: $5 million in grants to increase food stamp access

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2008 - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer today announced $5 million in grants for six state agencies, one local agency and a non-profit organization to simplify the Food Stamp Program application and eligibility systems and improve access to program benefits for America's low-income households.

"The federal government plays an important role in combating food insecurity and hunger, but we can not do it alone. Partnerships are needed at all levels to reach those most in need," said Schafer. "These grants will achieve our goal of increasing program access and participation among America's most vulnerable citizens."

This year's participation grants focus on modernizing and streamlining the food stamp application process or eligibility system to improve overall customer service. More than half of the grants place emphasis on increased participation among Hispanics and the elderly. Compared to a national participation rate of 67 percent, the Hispanic participation rate in the Food Stamp Program is considerably lower at 56 percent; while even lower among elderly Hispanics at 34 percent.

Food stamp benefits provide critical nutrition assistance to low income seniors, families, and children. Public, private, non-profit, and faith and community-based organizations play an important role in ensuring that all eligible people know about USDA's nutrition assistance.

The eight grantees are: El Paso County (CO) Department of Human Services, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Denver (CO) Department of Human Services, Florida Department of Children and Families, California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV, Oregon Department of Human Services, Alabama Department of Human Resources, and City of New York Human Resources Administration.

The Food Stamp Program is the cornerstone of the nation's nutrition safety net. It is the largest of the USDA's 15 domestic nutrition assistance programs and provides crucial support and vital supplement for low income households to buy the food they need for good health, and helps many make the transition to self-sufficiency.

On October 1, 2008, the Food Stamp Program will change its name to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- a program that supports individuals and families by putting healthy foods within reach. For more information on the Food Stamp Program and FNS, visit www.fns.usda.gov.

September 17, 2008 in Food security | Permalink

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