September 30, 2011 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) has been awarded a nationally competitive grant of nearly $900,000 to improve the processing time of CalFresh applications through increased use of technology. The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s effort to support programs like CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps.)
The grant comes at an opportune time, as the nation’s ongoing economic downturn has resulted in nearly double the demand for CalFresh benefits in San Diego County since April, 2009. During August, 2011, the County received over 14,000 new applications and had almost 237,000 recipients in the program. This increasing demand for services makes efforts to improve the efficiency of the CalFresh program even more urgent.
“This grant will enable us to process CalFresh applications in a more streamlined way,” said Chairman Bill Horn, County Board of Supervisors. “The proposed technology upgrades will help the County process online applications quicker and more accurately, therefore saving the County and taxpayers money.”
The goal is to significantly improve application wait time. The County receives over 11,000 documents relating to CalFresh applications daily. The proposed technology upgrades will also help applicants and recipients receive up-to-date information on their case status using any computer with Internet access.
“These proposed improvements to CalFresh will allow participants better access to nutritional foods such as fruits and vegetables, making it more simple for recipients to make the healthy food choice, the easy choice,” said Nick Macchione, HHSA Director. “This goes hand and hand with the County’s goal of building better health throughout our entire region.”
The proposed technology will allow authorized CalFresh community partners to track documents and monitor case status through the application process.
"The new innovations will better equip us to walk our clients through the process”, said Greg Knoll, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society. “These new innovative technology solutions will be a model for CalFresh programs across the county.”
The program improvements will be put in place over the next two to three years.