Electronic Publications from the Food Assistance & Nutrition Research Program No. (EFAN--03013-1) 345 pp

December 2003

Food Stamp Program Access Study: Local Office Policies and Practices

A survey of State food stamp offices shows that many policies and practices recommended by USDA in 1999 to improve accessibility to the Food Stamp Program (FSP) were widely operational by the year 2000. For example, in the surveyed areas, food stamp outreach campaigns were fairly widespread, food stamp applications were accessible, and some accommodations for the elderly and disabled were common. Other recommended practices, however, were less common, notably practices to encourage participation by working families and former recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The survey also found barriers to participation prevalent for some segments of the food stamp population and opportunities for conducting food stamp business after regular office hours limited. The dramatic decline in FSP participation in the late 1990s led policymakers and analysts to focus on local food stamp office policies and practices as possible barriers to participation. The Food Stamp Program Access Study is examining the relationship between these practices and the decision by eligible households to participate in the FSP. This report presents a detailed analysis of FSP operations that may affect accessibility.

Keywords: food stamp program, FSP, food stamps, food assistance programs, poor families, welfare policy, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF, program access, caseloads, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Program, FANRP

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