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Abstract

Reducing the burden of applying for food stamps or enhancing benefits appears to increase participation of the elderly in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). Historically, low-income seniors ages 60 and older who qualify for FSP benefits participate at low rates because they feel it is not worth the effort to apply. To identify effective strategies for raising participation among this population, USDA designed three models, each using different techniques to reduce the barriers that seniors face in FSP participation. The techniques involve reducing the time and effort of applying for benefits, aiding seniors in navigating the application process, and giving seniors the option of receiving commodity packages instead of getting benefits through electronic benefits transfer cards. The models were tested as county demonstrations in six States between 2002 and 2004. This report presents the findings from an evaluation of the demonstrations. Successful demonstrations increased the number of participating seniors by 20-35 percent after 21 months of operation.

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