Economic Services Administration

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USDA Awards ESA $1.5 Million Grant to Develop Mobile Phone Technology for improve Washingtonians’ access to food benefits

 

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service awarded Washington State’s Economic Services Administration (ESA) a three year $1.5 million grant to develop innovative mobile phone application technology for its successful Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The proposal is to develop a mobile phone application that will give program clients and applicants the opportunity to apply for services on their mobile phones.   This pioneering initiative recognizes that the many low-income households eligible for SNAP only have internet access through their mobile phones (they do not have personal computers), and have transportation challenges that are barriers to accessing in-person services.  The project will allow SNAP applicants to apply for benefits from their mobile phone and create efficiencies in the application process (clients could photograph documents and upload the documents).  The initiative also will help solve issues related to applications or recertifications that are denied, closed or slowed down due to forms not being submitted within required timelines. In addition to expediting the application process, the new technology will allow the user to receive immediate reminders and updates about their services more quickly than through traditional paper mail notifications. 

ESA is excited about the project. 

"This unique opportunity helps us focus on increasing efficiencies for SNAP clients, making benefits more accessible and convenient without sacrificing the program integrity” said ESA Community Services Director Babs Roberts.  Roberts added “This forwards our goal of getting food on the table as fast as possible for our community members in need, while providing administrative efficiencies to ESA in the process.”

Part of the grant funds will be used to hire a project manager and a mobile application technology vendor to develop the software.  The project was also supported by community partners FareStart, People For People, Sound Outreach and WithinReach.

For more information about the projects, visit www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-process-and-technology-improvement-grants.

 

What We Do

We transform lives by empowering individuals and families to thrive.  We serve many clients who live on the margin.  Although most are not receiving a cash grant, they may be relying on food assistance, work-related support services, assistance with child support, medical coverage, or child care subsidies.  A family crisis or change in the economy, even a small one, can force these families into situations requiring assistance, whether it’s the full support of a cash grant, help with child support, or temporary assistance to avoid losing housing.

Washington Connection offers you a way to find and apply for a variety of services and assistance online.  By entering in basic household information, Washington Connection will let you know what programs or services you or your family may be qualified to receive from various State, Federal or Local sources.