The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program requires families to be certified to receive benefits.
WASHINGTON — In the name of efficiency and improved customer service, the government has issued new guidance for the use of private sector staff for some aspects of the federal food aid program.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will still require families to be certified to receive benefits by a state civil servant, but basic case-specific information may now be provided by contracted private-sector staff if approved by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Previously SNAP limited private sector contractors to a limited set of activities.

The US Dept. of Agriculture administers SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program until October 2008, under the FNS umbrella. The department said the new guidance increases flexibility while holding states accountable for ensuring eligible people have access to food benefits as they move toward self-sufficiency. The government also said the change will increase efficiency by aligning service delivery and opening lines of communication across programs. Finally, the USDA said the change will be a catalyst for innovation and predicted improved use of technology.

Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue called the guideline “a positive step toward enhancing customer service and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

Michigan, followed by Louisiana, were the first states to receive approval to expand use of private sector staff for basic SNAP casework, and the new USDA guidance indicates similar state requests will be considered.

Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan

“Making government more efficient, effective and accountable is a cornerstone to serving the people of Michigan better,” said Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan. “President Trump’s Cabinet has been very good about talking with governors on how the two levels of government can work together more to the benefit of our residents. I’m pleased that Secretary Perdue has approved our request and encourage other states to take innovative ideas to federal departments for consideration.”