Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Family Assistance (DFA) is receiving a federal grant in the amount of $782,275 to improve the way residents apply for and recertify their Food Stamp benefits. The US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services is awarding the 2009 Participation Grant to seven states with focus on improving retention of benefits at the point of recertification and promoting partnerships with local non-profit agencies.
“DHHS is delighted to have been awarded this grant,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “This grant will fund expansion of a system whereby people can apply for food stamps from home over the Internet instead of having to come into our local offices. Clients will also be able to renew their benefits this way."
This expansion coincides with Commissioner Toumpas’ efforts to improve the way New Hampshire residents apply for and access DHHS’services. Through an initiative known as ACCES (Achieving Community Centered Excellence in Services) Front Door, DHHS is working to make the application and recertification processes easier, increase efficiencies and customer satisfaction, reduce errors, and reduce the time period between applying for assistance and receipt of benefits. ACCES Front Door utilizes technology and virtual self-service as the instrument to make the application process faster, easier and more economic for the public.
“Food Stamp cases are increasing by a record thousand each month,” said DFA Director Terry Smith. “Moreover, each case needs to be ‘renewed’ every six months, so the increased workload is staggering. Since we don’t have the resources to hire additional staff to assist in the increase in demand, we’re finding innovative ways to adapt to the times.”
DHHS is partnering with two organizations to launch a pilot program to implement an expansion of NH’s electronic application system known as NH EASY. The partnering organizations are the New Hampshire Local Welfare Administrators Association and Southern New Hampshire Services, Inc. These organizations will house self-service kiosks at select locations around the state, in addition to kiosks to be installed at some DFA District Offices.
In addition to food stamps, this new process will serve other DFA programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid and Healthy Kids.