Food Assistance:

Alternatives for Delivering Benefits

T-RCED-95-202: Published: May 23, 1995. Publicly Released: May 23, 1995.

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GAO discussed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) food assistance programs, focusing on: (1) alternative delivery systems for Food Stamp Program benefits; and (2) potential alternatives to streamline program operations and reduce costs in other food assistance programs. GAO noted that: (1) the alternatives to the current coupon-based system for delivering Food Stamp Program benefits are cash-out, which provides benefits by check, and electronic benefits transfer; (2) no one benefit delivery system is clearly superior with regard to controlling fraud, abuse, and administrative costs; (3) alternatives to streamline and cut costs in selected food assistance programs include consolidating multiple programs with similar objectives, improving the targeting of benefits to low-income individuals, and eliminating ineffective programs; and (4) Congress and USDA have taken a number of actions to reduce overpayments and enforce sanctions against states that have high benefit payment rates.

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