This blog post was contributed by CAHS Summer Intern Ellen Scully:
In the wake of the controversy surrounding misuse of Disaster SNAP or DSNAP funds, there is a need to shift the SNAP conversation from fraud to feasible improvements. Last week, the Hartford Courant posted the following quote from Southington Republican Senator Joseph Markley:
"Malloy has turned it into a story about these bad people, where the story should be: How can we operate this more efficiently?'' Markley said. "The governor and his [social services] commissioner have to take responsibility for it. The point is not who do we blame. The point is how do we fix it. That has been lost in the story.''
After CT Governor Daniel P. Malloy fired 103 state employees back in December for SNAP fraud after Tropical Storm Irene, the media buzz has been focused on the court dispute between the two parties rather than on the SNAP program itself. Attention and funds would be better served working with Department of Social Services Commissioner Roderick L. Bremby to improve Connecticut’s SNAP benefit distribution.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as Food Stamps, is a Federal program. According to the Coalition Against Hunger, SNAP currently has historically low fraud rates under 1%.
This leads many Connecticut policymakers to believe no positive changes can be made on the state level. This is untrue.
More proactive CT policymakers are asking if there are more efficient, dependable ways Connecticut can allocate resources in the future within the Federal distribution guidelines. Addressing program inefficiency would mean more funds available for those who need it most. And now, more than ever, there is need.
A February WTNH News 8 article by Susan Haigh stated that:
“There were about 100,000 monthly cases in 2007, a figure that grew to more than 210,000 in 2011. Meanwhile, the number of state DSS eligibility workers charged with processing those applications has dropped from 800 in 2002 to more than 500 today.”
Possible improvements to the program range from application simplification to increased staffing and oversight. Further research into the possible state level SNAP improvements could mean easier and increased access to SNAP benefits for CT residents that need it most. In response to this scandal, Connecticut would benefit more from positive changes being made than from mere finger-pointing.