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DHS news release

August 8, 2006

Media contact: Patricia Feeny 503-945-6955

Oregon's food stamp program achieves a record-high accuracy rate, receives praise from federal government

For the first time in a decade Oregon's food stamp benefit accuracy rate exceeds the national average and is now one of the top-ranked programs in the nation, the Oregon Department of Human Services announced today.

"This is particularly good news because it comes at a time when the number of Oregonians receiving food stamps is at an all-time high," said DHS Director Bruce Goldberg, M.D.

"DHS is strongly committed to maintaining the integrity of this program because it continues to be the best defense against hunger for thousands of Oregon families," said Ramona Foley, M.S.W., assistant director for DHS's Children, Adults and Families, which administers the state's food stamp program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the national food stamp program, monitors states closely to ensure they issue payments correctly. States are rated both on underpayment and overpayment of benefit dollars to eligible households. Oregon surpassed the national average in payment accuracy for both categories.

For fiscal year 2005, the national accuracy rate for erroneous case closures and benefit denials in error was 93.09 percent and Oregon's accuracy rate was 97.14 percent. Oregon now ranks 15th in the nation for its ability to minimize underpayments.

For overpayments, Oregon's 2005 accuracy rate was 94.29 percent compared to 94.16 percent for the national rate. Oregon's rate is up from 92.14 percent in 2004 and 87 percent in 2003. Oregon now ranks 26th in the nation for ensuring appropriate benefit levels are paid to food stamp households.

In its notification about the latest rankings, the USDA commended Oregon for its "excellent achievement" in improving the food stamp payment accuracy rate.

"This is an excellent achievement and speaks to the extensive efforts of state workers who for the past several years have been working diligently to improve our payment accuracy," said Goldberg. "I want to commend the staff in Children, Adults and Families, Seniors and People with Disabilities, and the Area Agencies on Aging offices for their dedication and commitment to this process."

DHS manages the state's food stamp program, which helps reduce hunger by providing eligible low-income people with food, a healthy diet and nutrition education.

In Oregon, more than 430,000 individuals in more than 220,000 households receive about $39 million in food stamp benefits each month. People who receive food stamps in error must repay any benefits for which they did not qualify. The USDA also can penalize states that fail to meet standards for issuing food stamp benefits.