Press Release

Welch, Fetterman, Kuster, and McGovern Introduce Legislation to Streamline Nutrition Paperwork Applications, Cut Costs

Sep 25, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C.Senators Peter Welch (D-VT) and John Fetterman (D-PA), alongside Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02), and Jim McGovern (MA-02) today introduced the Streamlining Nutrition Paperwork Act of 2023. The legislation modernizes the existing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Act (SNAP) by making it easier for people to apply for SNAP over the phone. SNAP helps low-income individuals and families by providing monthly benefits to purchase food.  

“We need to do everything in our power to make it easier, not harder, for folks to get connected to the nutrition assistance programs they need. This bill will streamline the process of signing up for SNAP, and help individuals and families in rural Vermont—and in rural communities across America—get access to the food they need,” said Sen. Welch. “I thank my friends and colleagues Senator John Fetterman, the Granite State’s Rep. Annie Kuster, and Rep. Jim McGovern for their partnership on the bicameral Streamlining Nutrition Paperwork Act, and call on all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to support this commonsense measure.”  

“As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, my top priority is making it easier for working families to put food on the table, and that includes expanding SNAP and protecting it from conservatives who want to cut it,” said Sen. Fetterman. “I am proud to support this bill, which will modernize the program, reduce barriers, and help more people sign up for critical assistance. Any program that helps more people who need SNAP get it — and provides accommodations for people who need them — is a no-brainer.” 

“Food insecurity is a serious challenge in New Hampshire – only half of all the eligible adults and children are enrolled in SNAP,” said Rep. Kuster. “By reducing unnecessary administrative barriers in the SNAP program, like the audio recording requirement, we can help ensure that every family has access to the healthy, nutritious food they need to thrive. As Congress considers the next Farm Bill, I’ll continue working to tackle food insecurity in New Hampshire to ensure no Granite Stater is left behind.”  

“SNAP is one of the most powerful tools we have in this country to end hunger—but too often and for too many families, simply accessing the benefits they for qualify can be time consuming and make it challenging to apply,” said Rep. McGovern. “Our bill would streamline the application process and remove some of the barriers that often make it difficult for hungry families to get the help they need. I am so grateful to Congresswoman Kuster for introducing this important bill.” 

Text of the bill can be read here

A one-pager on the bill can be read here.

Since 2008, SNAP applicants have been able to apply over the phone by recording a telephonic signature, but only with specific costly technology. Not all states utilize telephonic signature options because of the expense of the technology required and issues implementing it — which can range from as much as $150,000-$900,000 depending on the agency, size of the population served, and features included in the program. 

The SNAP Act of 2023 will alleviate this burden by waiving the audio recording requirements in favor of state officials being able to note the verbal (or nonverbal in the case of hearing-impaired applicants) affirmation of the SNAP applicant on their application. This legislation would formally codify this flexibility, saving time and administrative costs, while helping remove a potential barrier between qualified SNAP applicants and efficient access to the program.