States meeting food stamp deadline

Most states will make the Oct. 1 deadline for having a statewide system

in place for delivering food stamp benefits electronically, according to

a recent General Accounting Office report.

GAO found that 46 of the 53 jurisdictions that are required to implement

electronic benefits transfer (EBT) systems to deliver food stamp benefits

likely will meet the deadline. The jurisdictions are the 50 states, Washington,

D.C., Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

By October 2001, 39 states and Washington, D.C., already had installed

statewide EBT systems, and six other states were on track to achieve statewide

implementation by October 2002, the GAO report said. The seven locations

unlikely to meet the deadline are West Virginia, California, the U.S. Virgin

Islands, Delaware, Guam, Iowa and Maine.

GAO did not find any technical barriers impeding the statewide implementation

of EBT systems.

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the Agriculture Department in

cooperation with the states, provided about $15.5 billion in benefits during

fiscal 2001. About 80 percent of food stamp benefits are delivered via EBT

systems, which enable recipients to use plastic cards similar to a debit

card or smart card to pay for their food at a store's checkout counter.

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