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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed states' efforts to reduce participation in the Food Stamp Program, focusing on: (1) the reasons for the recent drop in food stamp participation; and (2) any problems that households with eligible children have experienced in obtaining food stamps.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture 1. To ensure that eligible people receive food stamp benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FNS, to promulgate regulations implementing the Welfare Reform Act's revisions to the Food Stamp Act. These regulations should, at a minimum, require that the states: (1) inform each applicant for assistance of the right to apply for food stamps during the first meeting, regardless of whether the applicant applies for other assistance; and (2) sanction the food stamp benefits only of the individual who does not comply with requirements of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
Closed - Implemented
USDA promulgated regulations in November 2000 and January 2001 that required the states to (1) inform each applicant for assistance of the right to apply for food stamps during the first meeting and (2) sanction the food stamp benefits of only the individual who does not comply with a welfare requirement.
Department of Agriculture 2. To ensure that eligible people receive food stamp benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FNS, to publicize eligibility requirements for the Food Stamp Program and distinguish them from the eligibility requirements for the TANF program.
Closed - Implemented
On July 14, 1999, President Clinton announced a national public awareness campaign aimed at educating potential food stamp recipients about their rights. USDA has made 32 different materials available in the forms of brochures, flyers, and posters to help people ascertain whether they are eligible for food stamp benefits.
Department of Agriculture 3. To ensure that eligible people receive food stamp benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FNS, to give higher priority to aggressively targeting issues related to participants' access to food stamp benefits in reviewing states' food stamp operations.
Closed - Implemented
During fiscal year 2000, FNS emphasized participant access issues in reviewing food stamp operations in each of the 50 states and the Virgin Islands.

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