Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: An Assessment of the Roles and Effectiveness of Community-Based Organizations in SNAP

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 1:50 PM
Zamora (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Claire Wilson, Brittany McGill, Carol Trippe, Rachel Gaddes, Brian Estes, Meg Tucker and Chrystine Tadler, Insight Policy Research
Between 2009 and 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service granted waivers to states to implement Community Partner Interviewer Demonstration projects.  These projects allowed community-based organizations (CBOs) such as food banks, to conduct SNAP interviews, collect verification documents, and submit applications to state SNAP agencies for eligibility determination. The projects aimed to improve the delivery of services, reduce strain on under-resourced state SNAP offices, and address the barriers that prevent some eligible households from applying for benefits.

This paper presents the results of a recently completed study of the Community Partner Interviewer Demonstration projects. The study sought to determine whether the use of CBOs to conduct SNAP interviews influenced program outcomes, such as efficiency, payment accuracy, and customer satisfaction. Findings were based on semistructured interviews with participating state SNAP directors and CBO directors, site visits, a customer satisfaction survey, and analysis of SNAP administrative data from participating states.

Perceived successes of the demonstration projects included improved program access, better customer service, and increased customer satisfaction, according to SNAP and CBO workers. Results of a customer satisfaction survey indicated SNAP participants who were interviewed by a CBO worker were more satisfied with the customer service they received than participants who were interviewed through a SNAP office or SNAP call center. Efficiency and payment accuracy results were mixed when comparing CBO applications to SNAP office applications. In three of four states, CBO applications had higher approval rates than SNAP office applications. Two of four states had shorter application processing times and better timeliness rates for CBO applications than regular applications.