The goal of this study was to determine whether and how the use of community-based organizations (CBOs) to conduct Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applicant interviews affects program performance and outcomes. As part of broader efforts to better serve low- and no-income households applying for SNAP, the Food and Nutrition Service worked with the states to modernize and streamline SNAP application processing and ultimately provide more efficient access to eligible services. CBOs have become increasingly involved in assisting SNAP applicants with the application process through a combination of policy simplifications and waivers to facilitate eligibility determination and manage case levels more efficiently.
For this study, Insight examined relevant program outcomes and client outcomes when CBOs conduct applicant interviews (versus when SNAP personnel conduct the interviews). Insight also examined the variation among CBOs by factors such as who they serve, what services they offer, how they provide SNAP-related services, and the nature of their relationships with local SNAP agencies.
The study had six main objectives:
- Describe the CBOs conducting SNAP interviews and the nature of their partnerships with state and local SNAP agencies.
- Describe the response of state SNAP staff to the involvement of CBOs in conducting applicant interviews.
- Describe the response of CBO interviewers to their involvement with SNAP.
- Describe the response of SNAP applicants interviewed by CBO staff for SNAP benefits to the involvement of CBOs in SNAP.
- Describe the services the CBOs offer.
- Document the effects of CBOs conducting SNAP interviews on program outcomes.
Final report, An Assessment of the Roles and Effectiveness of Community-Based Organizations in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (January 2015) available at http://www.fns.usda.gov/assessment-roles-and-effectiveness-community-based-organizations-supplemental-nutrition-assistance