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DHR SNAP Program Improvements Rewarded With $4.2 million In Federal Bonus Payments

BALTIMORE, MD (Oct. 7, 2013)—The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognized Maryland as one of the most efficient and highest performing states at administering the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Maryland will receive a $2.6 million incentive bonus payment for being counted among the top states with the largest percentage of low income families participating in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In June, USDA also awarded Maryland a $1.6 million incentive payment for significantly improving the state’s food stamp payment accuracy rate.

 “Viewed together, these $4.2 million in federal bonus payments reflect the significant effort we’ve put into improving and increasing access to food assistance in our state. At the same time, we’ve significantly improved the quality of the customer service and support we provide,” said Maryland Department of Human Resources Secretary Ted Dallas. “These additional funds will help us build on these efforts and ensure Maryland remains a top-ranked state.”

At 95.12%, Maryland has one of the highest participation rates in the country for residents who are below 125% of poverty based on U.S. Census data. The Department of Human Resources works with community-based organizations across the state to conduct SNAP outreach and enroll eligible households. Overall SNAP enrollment in Maryland has increased 176% since 2007, and 180,000 additional children are served by the program.

“Maryland Hunger Solutions – and our non-governmental partners all across the state – are glad to be making a difference in the lives of SNAP eligible families in Maryland. Being able to provide food assistance during tough economic times is not just neighborly – it’s a matter of simple justice,” said Michael Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “The other factor that makes a big difference is having a state government that understands the importance of this program and wants to manage it efficiently and effectively.”

Through better training, data monitoring and other system improvements, DHR reduced casework errors by 80% in just two years, making Maryland the most improved state in the nation for food stamp payment accuracy. DHR’s error rate for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012 was 3.40%, the lowest year-end rate the department has ever recorded. In FFY 2010, the error rate was 7.68%. The downward trend is continuing: from Oct. 1, 2012 through the month of May 2013, DHR’s preliminary SNAP payment error rate is 2.21%.

Maryland had been subject to federal penalties when the state’s error rate was more than 105% of the national average for two consecutive years.

Maryland’s progress came at a time when the state has seen unprecedented growth in demand for program benefits. Last year, DHR processed 27,000 Food Supplement Program applications on average each month, and more than 383,000 low-income households in Maryland were able to buy the food they need for good health.

For more information about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program, or to apply online for assistance, visit our Website at www.dhr.maryland.gov.

 

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Filed in: DHS News, Economic Assistance

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