Denver Human Services (DHS), Family and Adult Assistance program was awarded the national USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 2011 Bronze Hunger Champion Award this week by Sue McGinn, Colorado Department of Human Services Food Assistance Director, and Kathy Underhill, Executive Director of Hunger Free Colorado. The annual award is bestowed upon organizations that help bring the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as Food Stamps, to low-income people in creative ways.
DHS Family and Adult Assistance underwent a major recovery effort in 2011 to address a backlog in applications. The department was commended specifically for the improvements made in completing SNAP applications on time.
In the first quarter of 2011, Denver completed 64 percent of expedited applications within the federal guideline of seven days, and 68 percent of regular applications within the federal guideline of 30 days. One year later, in first quarter of 2012 that increased to 87 percent of expedited applications being completed timely, and 90 percent of regular applications being completed timely. Additionally, 97 percent of expedited food assistance interviews currently end with benefits being issued the same day.
“The amount of progress we have achieved and continue to see daily is nothing short of breathtaking. When I walk into each of our offices, I hold my head high knowing that at every level of our business we are working to put forth excellent service for every customer,” said DHS Family and Adult Assistance Director Andrea Albo. “The process of fine tuning our business practices will never end, and I know that we are continually asking ourselves, ‘How do we make this better?’ That piece alone is remarkable and speaks volumes to who we are and where our priority and focus remains – on how we can assist our community.”
Highlights of businesses practice changes that made this improvement and award possible include implementing team-based case management, expanding technology to support processing, establishing individual weekly completion goals, monitoring progress with weekly data driven reviews and creating a customer contact team to trouble shoot inquiries from clients. The department completed over 35,000 new applications throughout 2011.