Food Stamp Program: Steps Have Been Taken to Increase Participation of Working Families, but Better Tracking of Efforts Is Needed

GAO-04-346 Published: Mar 05, 2004. Publicly Released: Mar 05, 2004.
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Highlights

Eligible working families are believed to participate in the Food Stamp Program at a lower rate than the eligible population as a whole. As a result, many federal, state, and local officials believe the program is not living up to its potential as a component of the nation's work support system. This report examines: (1) what proportion of eligible working families participate in the program and what family characteristics are associated with a family's participation; (2) what factors may be acting as impediments to a working family's decision to participate in the program; and (3) what steps are being taken, or have been suggested, to help eligible low-income working families participate in the program while ensuring program integrity.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture To better target federal, state, and local outreach efforts; maximize the benefits of the available outreach dollars; and identify and eliminate impediments to food stamp participation, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct FNS to encourage states to collect and report on the results of their outreach and other efforts to increase participation among eligible working families.
Closed - Implemented
In response to the recommendation, FNS developed a forum on its web site for states to post and share information on best practices for conducting food stamp outreach to working families and others. Currently, 13 profiles of state best practices are posted in the forum. As the states continue to add information on successful best practices to the site, it will guide other states in their efforts to increase participation among eligible working families and help to maximize the benefits of the available outreach dollars.
Department of Agriculture To better target federal, state, and local outreach efforts; maximize the benefits of the available outreach dollars; and identify and eliminate impediments to food stamp participation, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct FNS to disseminate the lessons learned from those efforts to other states and localities.
Closed - Implemented
In response to the recommendation, FNS developed a forum on its web site for states to post and share information on best practices for conducting food stamp outreach to working families and others. Currently, 13 profiles of state best practices are posted in the forum. As the states continue to add information on successful best practices to the site, it will guide other states in their efforts to increase participation among eligible working families and help to maximize the benefits of the available outreach dollars.

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