Feeding America Goes Online to Connect Clients to the SNAP Benefits They Need – Guest Post by Brady Koch

July 16, 2013

Brady Koch is the Feeding America Director of Program Innovation.

Because federal benefits offer the steadiest, most reliable source of food support, here at Feeding America we work to accelerate low-income families’ access to these benefits. SNAP is the federal government’s first line of defense against food insecurity in the United States, providing the means to secure food for households with incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty line—currently at less than $30,000 annually for a family of four.

However, for many, there are significant barriers to participate in SNAP, including a lack of understanding about the program and lack of access to the program. We are committed to finding new ways to reduce these barriers.

An exciting new pilot program, which launched in January 2013 on Google with the support of the Walmart Foundation, is proving to be a highly effective way of connecting eligible individuals with SNAP benefits. Through the Online SNAP Referral Pilot Program, people searching for SNAP information online are connected to local food banks conducting SNAP outreach in specific markets. In these markets, when people search terms related to SNAP or food stamps, the lead search result is a Google display ad. The link in the ad directs people to a landing page where they can confidentially provide their contact information. The information is then emailed to the SNAP outreach team at their local food bank, who contacts them and helps them apply for benefits and connect them with additional local food resources.

The results have been stunning. Feeding America’s initial goal was to generate 25 client referrals per month in both Texas and Florida—the two states where the program was piloted. That goal was surpassed within the first day and by the end of January we had received 416 referrals. As of June 1, more than 2,700 people had been referred through the program. In 2012, Feeding America helped clients complete 161,000 SNAP applications.

Through this new initiative, we have the potential to grow this number exponentially and give thousands of Americans the means to become food-secure for the long-term. By reaching out to clients and making it easier for them to connect with their local food banks, we are eliminating barriers to SNAP and helping people access the nutrition assistance they need.

Posted by Emily Basten on July 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM in National Initiatives
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My father, Frederick V. Waugh, agricultural economist with the Dept of Agriculture, was one of the originators of the Food Stamp plan. The reason it was connected to Agriculture is that it had two purposes: not only feeding the poor, but also using farm surpluses. Weather patterns always make farming unpredictable: One year crops may be poor, another in more plenty than can be used through food markets alone. The value of the stamps changed from time to time so that they would buy more of surplus products than of scarce products.
Of course, we were fewer then, and it was possible to tinker with the values of the stamps quite frequently. I don’t know whether they are still used to manage farm surpluses. If they are, people who do not need food stamps need to know of that, so they will find the stamps more acceptable in the country.
Sincerely, Margaret W. Maxfield, mmaxf2@yahoo.com

Posted by Margaret Maxfield | July 19, 2013 at 7:26 PM

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