Cross posted from the White House blog:
At USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service we are committed to keeping our vital nutrition assistance programs available to those who need them most. One way to do that is to ensure access. Another is to ensure integrity—Americans expect us to serve those in need, and they expect us to do so with accountability for the benefits provided.
That why today, as part of the Obama administration’s ongoing Campaign to Cut Waste, we’ve announced a proposed rule that will provide States with additional tools to maintain integrity in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. The proposed rule will help States identify and prevent fraud by allowing them to request client contact when there are excessive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card replacement requests by SNAP households. The rule also further clarifies the definition of what constitutes trafficking. These new tools are important because excessive card replacement requests by SNAP recipients may indicate that the client does not know how to use the card properly and needs additional help or training, or that fraudulent activity may be occurring that warrants further investigation by the State. To be clear, we expect most requests for replacement cards to be legitimate ones; however, it’s important that we take a closer look at those cases in which cards are replaced at an excessive rate. Read more »
Farmers Markets offer in season, local produce to communities nationwide.
Promoting access to fresh and nutritious foods for the millions of Americans who participate in nutrition assistance programs is a top priority for USDA. We’re happy to announce that we’re emphasizing our commitment to promoting healthy food choices by giving more SNAP participants the ability to spend their benefits at farmers’ markets. Starting this month, we are making $4 million dollars in funds available to equip farmers’ markets with wireless point-of-sale equipment. Read more »
It’s no secret that participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has experienced significant growth over the past 10 years. In fact, the December 2011 participation showed that 46.5 million people received SNAP benefits.
What has caused these increases? During 2011, the increases were primarily due to unemployment and more people in need as well as those recovering from natural disasters such as Hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee who are receiving SNAP disaster benefits. SNAP was designed for just such situations. It expands to meet needs of families during tough economic times and contracts as circumstances improve. As the economy continues to improve and add jobs, families who are now struggling to put food on the table will no longer need assistance. Read more »
Under Secretary Concannon speaks with members of the Chicago Summer Food Work Group. From left: Mark Haller (ISBE), Diane Doherty (IHC), Monsignor Michael Boland (Archdiocese of Chicago), Under Secretary Kevin Concannon (USDA).
During the school year, nearly 32 million children receive a free or reduced price lunch through the National School Lunch Program. During the summer months most schools – and school meal programs – close down, leaving children without an opportunity for nutritious meals each day.
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While fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a relatively limited problem, any amount of waste or abuse is too much. As I wrote back in December, we are taking more aggressive steps to root out fraud and abuse as part of this administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste and to continue improving our stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
This week we were pleased to announce that fiscal year 2012 first quarter results for USDA’s efforts to identify and eliminate fraudulent retailers from SNAP are available. From October 1 through December 31, 2011, USDA took final actions to sanction through fines or temporary disqualifications—more than 225 stores found violating program rules. We also permanently disqualified over 350 stores for trafficking (exchanging benefits for cash) SNAP benefits. Read more »