Food Stamp Program is nearly all paperless

Almost all food stamp benefits for low-income individuals and families are now issued electronically, completing a 20-year transition from paper coupons, Agriculture Department secretary Ann Veneman said today.

“With this technology, low-income families are getting service faster and easier,” she said. Electronic transactions improve accountability and reduce fraud because they can be tracked more accurately than paper coupons.

About 95 percent of food stamp recipients access their benefits by using a magnetic stripe card and a PIN. The electronic benefit transfer system, introduced in l984, lets recipients authorize the transfer of their government benefits from a federal account to a retailer to pay for products.

USDA officials gathered today in Atlanta for the destruction of the remaining federal inventory of paper food stamps.

In the past three months, USDA has added a prescreening feature to its food stamp site to help users determine if they are eligible to receive food stamps. It is not an application for food stamps, but helps users decide whether to apply and about how much they would receive.

Several states, including New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, are developing and testing online food stamp services that let users apply for the program, check their application status, scan verifying documents and provide access to other nutrition programs for which they could be eligible.

Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are testing pilots aimed at the elderly and disabled to combine and simplify applying for Supplemental Security Income and food stamp benefits. A computer program is used to integrate food stamp rules with data from the Social Security Administration.

About the Author

Connect with the GCN staff on Twitter @GCNtech.


  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.