Tennessee's food stamp program has gained national recognition and a federal funding bonus of about $5 million.
A federal review found that Tennessee's Department of Human Services had improved the management of its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) more than any other state. Formerly known as food stamps, the SNAP program helps about 1.3 million low-income Tennesseans pay for groceries.
The state agency said the award for its improvement is a first for Tennessee. The state's procedural error rate, a measurement that captures customer service problems, has now fallen below the national average.
Tennessee also ranked sixth in the nation for the accuracy of its SNAP payments. The state reduced overpayments and underpayments to eligible households.
The $5 million bonus from the U.S. Department of Agriculture must be put into the technology and administration that helps run SNAP.
Nationally and in Tennessee, the use of food stamps has declined, although the dip in Tennessee has been more modest than the national trend. The state still ranks among the highest in the nation for reliance on food assistance, with almost one in five Tennesseans receiving the aid.
Reach Tony Gonzalez at 615-259-8089 or on Twitter @tgonzalez.