Oakland Food Stamp Program Uses Technology to Strengthen Outreach (Continued)
Partner Organizations Use Broad Range of Strategies to Reach Needy Residents
Yari Gonzalez (left) gathers information from Maricela Ruiz, to make sure that her application is complete.
The ACCFB is the lead agency for the outreach efforts of the Oakland Work Supports Pilot program, but it works closely with its partners, Making Connections Oakland and the CAFB. A strong working relationship with the Alameda County Social Service Agency also is integral to its success. Numerous strategies are used to reach residents, including regularly scheduled enrollment clinics, a toll-free food stamp info line, and a peer-support network. Enrollment clinics are held at libraries, food pantries, medical facilities, churches, schools, grocery stores and other venues. Outreach tool kits with flyers, information sheets and referral forms in English, Spanish and Chinese are widely distributed.
Twice a month enrollment clinics are held at the office of the San Antonio Neighborhood Network (SANN), a resident-led, mutual-assistance network that is an outgrowth of Making Connections Oakland. An independent organization, SANN has a store-front presence, with nine “community builders” who connect residents to services and supports. The community builders are paid a stipend for their work. They provide important initial outreach and assessments for the food stamp program and other services.
Here is how the application and submission process works:
- When a resident calls the food stamp info line, or comes to an enrollment clinic, they are asked if they need food immediately. If this is the case, they are provided with information about the closest place where they can get emergency food, and given a “food referral.”
- They are given information about food stamps and pre-screened. The outreach worker completes the food stamp application, using the FAST system.
- The applicant is instructed on what documents are needed, and the completed application is sent to them for review and signing.
- The applicant brings or mails the documents to the outreach worker, who checks to make sure they are complete, then scans them and sends the scanned documents and completed application to the Alameda County office the same day.
- The county sends back a receipt for the application, and then processes it and contacts the family by phone or mail to set up an interview. Interviews are done over the telephone or in person. The approval process can take 30 to 60 days.
- If they are approved, the family receives benefits retroactive to the day the county received their application. The family receives an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, which can be used at grocery stores. Every three months, they must confirm their household and income information to continue receiving benefits.
- If a family does not hear from the county, they are advised to contact ACCFB and the outreach staff will follow up on their behalf.