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El Paso, Jefferson counties receive national food assistance awards

posted Nov 24, 2015, 3:51 PM by Nicole Grabowski - CDHS
DENVER (Nov. 24, 2015) – Jefferson and El Paso counties received  Distinguished Service Awards from the American Association of SNAP Directors (AASD) during the organization’s annual conference in Seattle earlier this month.

AASD aims to strengthen the administration and management of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program).  Both El Paso and Jefferson counties have been consistent top performers in timeliness and accuracy of serving low-income customers. 

Their recent efforts earned two of the top three conference awards.

El Paso County partnered with the Pikes Peak Library District to offer after-hours assistance at three libraries: Ruth Holley, Sand Creek and Penrose. In addition to the library offerings, workers were co-located at the Criminal Justice Center to help with reintegration efforts of inmates leaving the system. Upon their release, inmates are referred to education, parenting and job training programs in concert with the libraries. 

“We really focused on our timeliness numbers and collaborations with our community partners,” said Kristina Iodice, spokeswoman for the El Paso County Department of Human Services. 

The El Paso County sheriff estimates the efforts at the jail will save the county $500,000 this year.

“Innovation in the field is always welcome,” said Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services.

“El Paso’s national recognition for its human service department’s inventive methodologies relating to information access for inmates, and its diligence in processing food assistance applications to ensure seamless service, are worthy of the national attention the county recently received.”

Jefferson County has been at the forefront of a number of innovative processes and has consistently received awards for timeliness and quality for SNAP. When the economy crashed in 2009, the county saw a huge increase in the number of SNAP applications. It adjusted its internal processes to accommodate 1,400 new additional applications. 

“We were early adopters of business process reengineering,” said Lynnae Flora, Deputy Director and Public Information Officer of Jefferson County Human Services. “We wanted to learn to do more with less.” 

The county in the past year re-evaluated its lobby, personnel, mail room, and functions, and partnered with community organizations to provide outreach and application assistance to those in need. Flora says the county adopted a “work management system” that tracked worker activities to shift resources to the greatest immediate need, so that customers could get benefits the same day they applied.

"We congratulate Jefferson County," Bicha said. "The award is emblematic of more Jefferson County residents getting the right services at the right time."
Nicole Grabowski - CDHS,
Nov 24, 2015, 3:51 PM