Project: Program Access and Declining Food Stamp Program Participation
Award Year: 2002
Amount of award, fiscal 1999: $1,889,035.00 fiscal 2001: $311,214.00 fiscal 2002: $59,999.63
Institution: Abt Associates, Inc.
Status: Completed
Detailed Objective: This project investigates how policies and local administrative practices of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) and other related programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), affect FSP participation nationally. The objectives of the study are to:
  • identify and document local policies and practices that may impact the food stamp awareness and program participation of clients and potential clients;
  • understand changes that followed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in local caseworkers' and supervisors' perspectives on their roles and on program policies and operations;
  • identify characteristics of households applying for public assistance, especially food stamps, and the disposition of their applications will be identified;
  • evaluate the application processing, eligibility determination, and case dispositions of households, and compare the characteristics of different categories of applicants;
  • analyze the relationships between policies and practices in local welfare offices and the disposition of food stamp cases, certification and re-certification rates, and changes in caseloads;
  • describe the personal characteristics and reasons for nonparticipation of food-stamp eligible nonparticipating households, and compare reasons for different categories of nonparticipants. (This objective is in an option to the base contract).

The results of the study will help inform the current policy debate on factors behind the national decline in food stamp rolls, which fell by one-third between 1994 and 1998. The study will also shed light on the influences of post-PRWORA policy changes and local operating practices, including the various diversion practices, on FSP participation. Information obtained about the reasons for nonparticipation among eligible households in the post-PRWORA era will be especially valuable to FSP administrators. A fixed-price contract was awarded to Abt Associates, Inc. at a cost of $1,889,035 in fiscal 1999, with an option for $623,793. An amendment to the contract for $311,214 was made in fiscal 2001 to support additional data collection efforts. Additional funding of $60,000 was provided in fiscal 2002 to make an interim report publicly available. The study is expected to be completed by August 2003.

Topic: Program Operations, SNAP/Food Stamp Program
Dataset: Food Stamp Program Access Study Surveys
Bartlett, S., and N. Burstein. Food Stamp Program Access Study: Eligible Nonparticipants, E-FAN-03-013-2, USDA, ERS, May 2004.
Bartlett, S., N. Burstein, and W. Hamilton. Food Stamp Program Access Study: Final Report, E-FAN-03-013-3, USDA, ERS, November 2004.
Gabor, V., B. Hardison, C. Botsko, and S. Bartlett. Food Stamp Program Access Study: Local Office Policies and Practices, E-FAN-03-013-1, USDA, ERS, December 2003.