Because federal benefits offer the steadiest, most reliable source of food support, here at Feeding America we work to accelerate low-income families' access to these benefits. Through the new Online SNAP Referral Pilot Program, we have the potential to give thousands of SNAP eligible Americans the means to become food-secure for the long-term.
Brady Koch is the Feeding America Director of Program Innovation.
Because federal benefits offer the steadiest, most reliable source of food support, here at Feeding America we work to accelerate low-income families' access to these benefits. SNAP is the federal government's first line of defense against food insecurity in the United States, providing the means to secure food for households with incomes below 130 percent of the federal poverty line—currently at less than $30,000 annually for a family of four.
However, for many, there are significant barriers to participate in SNAP, including a lack of understanding about the program and lack of access to the program. We are committed to finding new ways to reduce these barriers.
An exciting new pilot program, which launched in January 2013 on Google with the support of the Walmart Foundation, is proving to be a highly effective way of connecting eligible individuals with SNAP benefits. Through the Online SNAP Referral Pilot Program, people searching for SNAP information online are connected to local food banks conducting SNAP outreach in specific markets. In these markets, when people search terms related to SNAP or food stamps, the lead search result is a Google display ad. The link in the ad directs people to a landing page where they can confidentially provide their contact information. The information is then emailed to the SNAP outreach team at their local food bank, who contacts them and helps them apply for benefits and connect them with additional local food resources.
The results have been stunning. Feeding America's initial goal was to generate 25 client referrals per month in both Texas and Florida—the two states where the program was piloted. That goal was surpassed within the first day and by the end of January we had received 416 referrals. As of June 1, more than 2,700 people had been referred through the program. In 2012, Feeding America helped clients complete 161,000 SNAP applications.
Through this new initiative, we have the potential to grow this number exponentially and give thousands of Americans the means to become food-secure for the long-term. By reaching out to clients and making it easier for them to connect with their local food banks, we are eliminating barriers to SNAP and helping people access the nutrition assistance they need.