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State agency recognized for efficiency in awarding SNAP benefits

Federal officials recently awarded the Alabama Department of Human Resources a “performance bonus” for the agency’s timeliness in processing food assistance applications, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

The award involves the processing of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly food stamps.

Barry Spear, spokesman for the Alabama DHR, said the award money came to the department for its 97.25 percent application processing timeliness rate for SNAP in fiscal year 2017, which ended Sept. 30 2017. According to Spear,  the state agency’s rate was “substantially higher than the national average.”

Spear said by phone Wednesday he estimated the national average to be about 93 percent. In comparison, Georgia’s rate came in at 89.7 percent, Mississippi’s was 91.4 percent and Tennessee’s ranked “abysmally” at 81.12, Spear said.

The award money, totalling $1,145,338, is limited to SNAP expenses, like improving the program’s computer systems, equipping county agencies and investigating fraud and misuse. Spear said there weren’t any specific plans to spend the money, but that the award would help save state tax dollars for “more critical issues.”

The award money will continue to help the department track down recipients and businesses that sell SNAP benefits and in turn hinder those who need and qualify for the program, Spear said.

“That’s our job: to get benefits to those who are qualified and continuing to strive for our staff to do it quickly and accurately,” he said.


Staff Writer Danie Waddell: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @DanieeW.