196187 Increased accessibility through technology: An exploratory study of SNAP modernization in Milwaukee County, WI

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 8:50 AM

Ayanna K. Williams, BA , Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, Congressional Hunger Center, Washington DC, DC
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest federal nutrition program, serves more than 28 million low-income individuals. Milwaukee County has the second highest SNAP participation rate in an urban area, among eligible populations. In December 2008, 162,310 Milwaukee County residents received SNAP benefits. In response to an increasing caseload, County officials have utilized technology to make SNAP more accessible to eligible populations and to increase the efficiency of benefit issuance. Technological initiatives, termed “SNAP modernization”, are assessed during this presentation. Data were derived from structured interviews, observations, and analysis of pre-existing statistical data.

Research revealed more than 20 states have begun planning or have implemented SNAP modernization initiatives (e.g. telephonic signature, online application, and document imaging). In the seven states analyzed (including Wisconsin) SNAP modernization has increased accessibility to homebound populations, decreased error rates, simplified processing procedures, and provided increased venues for populations to view case details. Within Milwaukee County the ACCESS website has become the second most commonly used form of application submission, 35 community agencies have partnered with County officials to educate and perform outreach about modernization initiatives, and the ACCESS website has proven to a be a tool that can allow clients to manage a case without a face-to-face consultation. Milwaukee County, along with other states, has continued to plan additional modernization efforts that will decrease time and money needed to successfully implement SNAP benefit issuance.

Community agencies, policy makers, and public health officials can improve cost-efficiency, outreach and education, and the effectiveness of nutrition assistance programs by examining SNAP modernization initiatives and implementing initiatives in more states.

Learning Objectives:
1. Analyze SNAP modernization initiatives implemented in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. 2. Identify strengths and weaknesses of SNAP modernization initiatives in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. 3. Discuss SNAP modernization initiatives that have been successfully implemented in six states, outside of Wisconsin. 4. Recommend future steps Milwaukee County administrators can take to further implement modernization initiatives into benefit issuance. 5. Emphasize the monetary and time benefits of using modernization initiatives to increase SNAP participation and effectively serve SNAP recipients.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principle investigator responsible for the content of the research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.