USDA okays Ala. SNAP grant for food assistance

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is issuing a $425,000 grant to the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), Food Assistance Program.

DHR had applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation Grant and was notified Thursday of its approval.

The food assistance program's purpose is to improve nutrition by providing monthly benefits to eligible low-income households to help them buy the food they need for good health.

The grant  is aimed at supporting efforts to simplify the food assistance application and eligibility determination systems and create measures to improve access to food assistance benefits by eligible applicants.

"We will use these funds to enhance online interaction between our clients and their caseworkers," said DHR Commissioner Nancy Buckner. "This will better serve our clients and also make our operation more efficient by saving caseworkers time by reducing the frequency of client phone calls and office visits."

The online application allows Alabama citizens to apply for food assistance benefits via the internet from their home, a library, or any computer with access to the internet. The goal of the online application process is to provide easier access to the state's food assistance program and improve services to potential recipients.

This is the second grant that DHR has been awarded by FNS to fund development and implementation of a statewide web-based application for potential food assistance recipients. In 2008, DHR was awarded a $600,000 grant that has been used to create the online food assistance application.

All states operate the food assistance program according to regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.