Atlantic County has been awarded a $746,000 federal grant that will allow it to make technological improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for low-income individuals and families.

SNAP is the largest nutrition assistance program in the country and provides a domestic hunger safety net for millions of eligible citizens, according to information provided by the county.

During the past 10 years, Atlantic County’s SNAP participation rate has more than doubled with the addition of 23,000 individuals. The county processed about 8,000 more applications in 2016 than it had in 2011, largely attributed to the impact of the national recession and the closing of five casinos that left nearly 10,000 workers unemployed. The county is also responsible for processing an average of 1,450 SNAP recertifications each month.

“This grant will enable our Department of Family and Community Development to modernize its operations to provide quality service with greater efficiency,” County Executive Dennis Levinson said in a statement. “And through the use of metrics, we will be better able to identify and meet the needs of our customers.”

The grant funds will be used to upgrade the county’s existing phone system to feature increased automation and self-service capabilities, allowing staff more time for case management and processing claims. The advanced phone system will also aid in capturing key metrics and help improve overall customer service and satisfaction.

According to Levinson, those improvements will be made over a three-year period.

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