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January 10, 2017

Food Assistance Gains Seen Across Colorado; More Progress Needed

Colorado’s improvement
is 11th best in the U.S.; Boulder County organizations collaborating
on outreach

Boulder County, Colo. - Enrollment in the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP, formerly known as “food
stamps”) a program that helps low-income residents purchase food for themselves
and their families, has increased across Colorado. This indicates progress in
addressing hunger across the state. At the same time, Colorado still ranks 45
nationally for access to the SNAP benefits.

As part of an effort to
ensure as many people as possible have access to nutritious food, and especially
to help decrease hunger among seniors and families with young children, Boulder
County Housing and Human Services and its partner organizations are
collaborating with Hunger Free Colorado to find and reach those who may be
eligible for SNAP supports.

Hunger Free Colorado, a
statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to ending hunger, released its
annual Food Stamp Impact Reports for all 64 Colorado counties today that detail
the efficiency and effectiveness of the state-supervised, county-administered
SNAP program. Through efforts to improve outreach and customer service, 44
counties have increased their performance, raising the statewide SNAP enrollment
of those eligible from 56 percent to 59 percent, the 11th best
national ranking for improvement.

“The Colorado state
legislature and counties have taken positive strides in the last year, yet one
in eight Coloradans still struggles with hunger,” said Kathy Underhill, CEO of
Hunger Free Colorado. “It’s important that we continue to build a strong,
effective food assistance program to ensure people of all ages and backgrounds
can get the nutritional support for optimum health and well-being at every
stage of life.”

Even with the positive
momentum, Colorado continues to fall below the national SNAP enrollment average
of 74 percent of those assumed to be eligible. Though the monthly financial
supports from SNAP are modest – averaging $1.40 per person per meal – food
assistance remains the primary tool for addressing hunger for millions across
the country.

“No one in Boulder
County should ever go hungry,” said Frank Alexander, Director of Housing and
Human Services, which administers the SNAP program in the Boulder County. “We
are grateful to be able to work with our strong network of community partners and
Hunger Free Colorado on this critical effort to reach those who might be
eligible for SNAP and get them enrolled.”

In addition to Hunger
Free Colorado, Boulder County is partnering with local community organizations
including Boulder Food Rescue, Community Food Share, Emergency Family
Assistance Association, Harvest of Hope Pantry, Our Center, and Sister Carmen
Community Center to better understand barriers to enrollment and address them
locally. The team has worked with University of Colorado researchers, surveyed
people who are and are not enrolled in SNAP, and analyzed statewide survey
results to understand issues surrounding enrollment and retention. The
collaborative effort includes marketing materials such as ads and posters,
enhanced information and training for staff who work with low-income clients,
and data-driven outreach directly to those who appear to be eligible for SNAP.

The newly released Food
Stamp Impact Reports from Hunger Free Colorado compare each county’s
performance with the state and national averages for the following: enrollment,
economic impact, and timely and accurate application processing. The Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities, an independent, third-party entity, performed
enrollment data analysis for the reports. The analysis follows the same method
as the USDA performance measures used to award bonuses to well-performing

Highlights from the
released data include:

  • Though some
    individual counties fall short, Colorado is meeting the federal standard for
    timely processing of 95 percent;
    the state has been above this benchmark
    for 12 consecutive months.
  • 44 of 64
    counties saw improved estimates for their enrollment of low-income, eligible
    since the last report
  • Colorado leaves
    millions of dollars on the federal table and loses more than $269 million
    annually in grocery sales

Boulder County’s
percentage of eligible-but-not-enrolled appears to be higher than in some other
parts of the state, in part because of the county’s large student population.
The University of Colorado-Boulder has nearly 33,000 students, and while many
of them appear to be eligible for the program based on income, SNAP
requirements strictly limit eligibility in this population. The collaborative
effort with Hunger Free Colorado and community partner organizations will help the
county better understand the enrollment gaps and find the most effective ways
to reach those who are truly eligible for SNAP.

Anyone who might be
eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is encouraged to apply online at, visit one of the community partner locations
across the county or Boulder County offices in
Longmont or Boulder, or call 303-441-1000. Additional information about
the SNAP program, including eligibility requirements, is available at

“Everyone has a role to
play. Federal nutrition programs, along with state and local counterparts, each
contribute to improving food assistance to build a strong foundation for
Coloradans,” said Underhill. “We still have a lot of room for improvement as a
state. By continuing to work together with organizations such as Boulder County
Housing and Human Services and its partners to improve SNAP access, enrollment,
and administration, we can ensure all Coloradans can get the fuel they need to
reach their potential.”

View the Food Stamp Impact Reports for
Colorado counties and all sources at
For additional data on county performance in other
support services, visit