The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has played a key role in helping millions of people access healthy food. But funding limitations have prevented many states from investing in modernizing their SNAP programs’ technology and business processes. In March 2021, as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Congress authorized $1.15 billion in additional SNAP administrative funding over three years to help state agencies modernize their programs to better meet families’ and communities’ nutrition needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
States have had considerable flexibility in how they used this new funding. To learn more about how states have been using their allotments, we surveyed state agencies across the country and asked how they have used the funds to improve customer experiences, streamline access to benefits and services, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of program administration. This work is a follow-up to our documentation of states’ initial investments in fiscal year 2021.
We find that, out of 40 states that responded to the survey, most are investing in projects focused on customer experience, many are improving application and recertification processes, and others are supporting their staff. Staff members at state SNAP agencies, advocates, and other nutrition assistance stakeholders can use the table to learn about states’ experiences with their ARPA-funded projects and explore ideas for how to further improve the SNAP program.
The table shows projects by state, but it can also be sorted by the following project focus areas: online and mobile technology; call centers; robotic processing automation; agency website, communications, and translation; eligibility processing improvements; customer experience; program integrity; SNAP E&T; SNAP outreach; staff resources (trainings, technology); and recruitment and retention of staff (including bonuses, salaries, and overtime).
This project was published on March 2, 2023.
We partnered with the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and Share Our Strength’s Center for Best Practices for this project. The information above summarizes responses to our December 2022 survey of state SNAP agencies. Though we sent the survey to agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, only 39 states and Guam responded. Respondents could describe up to six projects.
This project was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We are grateful to them and to all our funders, who make it possible for Urban to advance its mission. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Funders do not determine research findings or the insights and recommendations of our experts.
RESEARCH Poonam Gupta and Elaine Waxman
We would like to thank Chloe Green, Senior Policy Associate, Food and Nutrition Services, at APHSA for her partnership on this project. To learn more about the work states are doing through ARPA funding, email Chloe Green at [email protected].