Just two years ago, Texas's Food Stamp Program was rated the worst in the nation for processing claims.
Now, it is being recognized as the nation's most improved.
"It was about 2009, when the Texas SNAP program, also known as the Food Stamp Program was rated one of the worst in the nation as far as timeliness," says Kerensa Subic, a supervisor at the local SNAP offices.
In 2009, the Texas SNAP Food Benefits, formerly known as the Food Stamp program, filled just 57 percent of claims filed. Now the state, along with its office here in Abilene, is processing 99 percent.
I asked someone who has benefited from the program if he was surprised at these statistics. "No, not at all, i've seen it over the past four years," says Frederick Kerstell.
The program was rated the worst in the country just two years ago. Now? It's the most improved.
Kerstell says, "It seems like there's a faster response. There's more caring people. I mean all around, they improved."
He is just one of the many who has benefited from the improvements.
"I've seen many changes, expecially with the feedback from the companites and from the state. They're more caring about the people out here now. They understand that more help is needed," says Kerstell.
Many changes have been implemented to improve timeliness and efficiency of the program. One of the changes made was to increase staff. Another was to add a new software elgibility system. About 70 claims per day are processed daily at the Abilene division.
"What they do is, you fill out your application. You'll actually get an interview with these folks. In louisiana you don't get an interview, you have to wait for 30 days. So that's why I think Texas is number one," says Barbie Helmer, who also benefits from the program.
In the last two years, Taylor County's enrollment numbers increased eight percent and the trend only seems to be continuing. The program hopes to continue improving and meeting the needs of our community.