Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Food Stamp Program to Get $2.9 Million Improvement
Stimulus funding will enhance staff training, technology
FRANKFORT, Ky. – As part of a continued effort to provide assistance to families struggling to make ends meet, Governor Steve Beshear today announced a $2.9 million plan to help modernize the state’s food stamp program.
“As the state’s food stamp caseload is growing, we are renewing our commitment to more efficiently serve these families,” Gov. Beshear said. “This investment in updated technology and human resources will improve services for food stamp customers.”
Updates will be made to software and equipment, which will eliminate paper waste and increase fraud detection. The advancements will improve employee accuracy and streamline the application process so staff can devote more time to client interviews, reducing the time it takes to get food stamps to eligible applicants.
“We are investing these one-time dollars in projects that will have a lasting benefit for years to come,” Gov. Beshear said. “Not only is this stimulus money modernizing the state’s food supplement program, but it’s also creating jobs.”
Interim workers will be hired and enhanced training will be provided to current staff.
The funding will go to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), also known as the federal stimulus package. The CHFS Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) administers the state food stamp program, which is funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.
CHFS Secretary Janie Miller said the additional money will maximize her agency’s efforts to serve the public who use food supplements.
“Good nutrition is essential for children to achieve their physical and developmental potential,” she said. “Food supplements are enabling Kentucky families and seniors to make better food choices in the grocery aisles. This one-time stimulus funding allows us to implement the service enhancements we need to move forward to better serve our customers.”
The food stamp program’s changes are scheduled to be implemented by this fall.
Secretary Miller said food stamp customers are accustomed to a high quality of service. For the past three years, Kentucky has ranked in the top 10 state programs for the highest percentage of timely processed food stamp applications and the top 10 for access, meaning staff is effectively reaching a high percentage of Kentucky’s families and children who are eligible for the program.
Many Kentucky senior citizens may be eligible for food stamps and not know it, Miller said. “These benefits can increase seniors’ food purchasing power and ease the limits of a fixed income.”
Food supplements are a good way to infuse money into Kentucky’s communities because it goes to businesses that employ local workers. When families can use food stamps, it opens up their available income for other necessities, like child care, health care or other necessities that also puts money back into the economy.
In April 2009, stimulus funding increased food stamp benefits to most households by 13.6 percent. Food stamps benefits are provided monthly to qualifying individuals and families on electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards work much like debit or credit cards, and account funding is updated automatically.
Every county has a DCBS office that accepts applications for food supplements. Log on to https://apps.chfs.ky.gov/Office_Phone/index.aspx to find your local office.
For more information on Kentucky’s food stamp program and how to apply, visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dfs/foodstampsebt.htm.
Log on to http://kentuckyatwork.ky.gov to learn how federal stimulus dollars are being spent in the Commonwealth.