Sign that says we welcome SNAP benefits

Sign that says we welcome SNAP benefits

What is the agency priority?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food assistance to 1 in 8 Americans, or over 42 million people annually.1 In an effort to improve service delivery, customer experience, and client access to nutrition assistance from SNAP, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 invested over $1.1 billion to provide administrative support to states to invest in technology modernization. When applicants do not upload verification documents, their SNAP applications are procedurally denied, which keeps many eligible applicants from accessing SNAP benefits. A specific priority of USDA is to improve access to SNAP benefits by reducing procedural denials.

What did we evaluate?

Many procedural denials of SNAP applications are due to applicants not uploading verification documents. Using prior data analyzed by Code for America, 57% of all procedural denials in the partner state can be attributed to a failure to upload verification documents. Uploading verification documents can be difficult for several reasons — applicants may struggle to remember passwords to online systems that accept documents, scanning documents to upload or mail in can be cumbersome, and applicants may be unsure whether they have already uploaded documents. We collaborated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a large Southern state, and Code for America (CfA) to create an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, web-based document uploader to make it easier for applicants to submit verification documents. The modernized uploader did not require a log-in password that applicants would have to accurately recall or reset, allowed applicants to drag and drop files into it from their desktop, and was easier to navigate than the existing submission options, according to preliminary user testing.

How did the evaluation work?

Between September and December 2023, online SNAP applicants (N=34,465) who applied as part of the regular online application process were randomized to be sent one of two sets of messages. All applicants were sent basic text messages prompting them to upload their verification documents. For applicants assigned to the uploader group, these text messages included links to the new modernized document uploader. No changes were made to the SNAP application or approval process. This evaluation will compare whether applicants in the basic text message and new uploader text message groups were more or less likely to upload any income verification documents, receive a procedural denial for SNAP, or ultimately receive approval for SNAP benefits.

The Analysis Plan at the right indicates the date locked, and you can verify our upload date on GitHub.

What did we learn?

This evaluation is currently being implemented and is part of our American Rescue Plan portfolio. Results forthcoming (2024).


  1. Food and Nutrition Service, Program Data Featured Reports.





Project Type

Impact evaluation of program change




American Rescue Plan


View Analysis Plan (PDF)