WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the development of new promotional materials and other tools designed to improve access to its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The new materials include some subtle changes that the agency hopes will help increase participation in the program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. Notably, new promotional materials that will be used nationwide by retailers participating in the program include signs that say “We Welcome SNAP Benefits.” Earlier signage had simply indicated that stores accepted Food Stamps or SNAP.
“Underscoring that SNAP benefits are welcome, rather than merely accepted, signals an important change in the way both retailers and program participants view these benefits,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an announcement. “These new tools will allow us to improve access and increase participation in SNAP, which serves as a vital resource to the most vulnerable Americans. Breaking down barriers to participation will help the Obama Administration deliver on its goal of reducing hunger and improving nutrition across the country.”
USDA has also unveiled a new SNAP Retail Locator at www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailerlocator.htm . The new site can be used by SNAP recipients, state eligibility workers, community organizations, food banks and others to locate SNAP-authorized stores by state, city, ZIP code or street address.
The new locator tool was announced by Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon in a recent address to officials from the National Grocers Association, Food Marketing Institute and Electronic Funds Transfer Association.
“The SNAP Retail Locator will make it easier for SNAP participants, especially those who may be new and unfamiliar with the program, to gain access to food,” said Concannon. “The new resource is another critical step in improving access to SNAP by providing participants with information to make more informed shopping choices.”
Participation in SNAP has reached an all-time high due to the recent recession, and the federal program currently helps provide food for almost 40 million U.S. citizens. Research indicates that every $5 the federal government spends on SNAP benefits generates $9.20 in economic activity.