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Success rate reaches 95% after first month of electronic benefits
MADISON Department of Workforce Development Secretary Jennifer Reinert announced today the rollout of the Quest card, the Electronic Benefits Transfer card for food stamps, has been a statewide success.
The success rate for people picking up their cards by the end of the first month the benefits were available, ranged from 86 percent in the first stage of the Milwaukee County rollout to 95 percent in Dane and its surrounding counties. The conversion in Milwaukee County is being done in three stages because approximately half of the states food stamp participants reside there.
Full conversion in Milwaukee County is expected to reach a success rate of 92 percent because 8 percent of participants move each month, become ineligible, fail to keep required appointments or drop out of the program. The remainder of the state experiences approximately 5 percent fluctuation each month.
"The departments top priority was to do whatever was necessary to ensure food stamp participants had their new Quest card in hand, and knew how to use it before the card was even activated. The success rates are a true testament to the strength of the county and states education and follow-up efforts," said Reinert.
Education and follow-up efforts have included: informational brochures and appointment letters being mailed to participants, on-site training sessions and card pick-up at senior and community centers, translators being available for those who do not speak English, transportation to training sites, and informational materials being available at food pantries, elderly nutrition sites and shelters and phone calls and home visits when necessary.
"It is without question, a strong partnership between the county and the state, and community organizations contributed to the success of the Quest card rollout. We appreciate that the state postponed the conversion in Milwaukee County to the fall, and allowed us to do the rollout over a three month period because of our large caseload," said Ralph Hollmon, director of the Milwaukee County department of human services.
The county also contracted with the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee to do outreach and the DWD developed public service announcements, which ran on radio and television and in the newspaper to educate the public about the conversion.
"It should not go unrecognized that food stamp participants responded very positively to using this new technology and that has certainly helped make the transition a smooth one," said Reinert. "The grocers in Wisconsin have also made this a success by embracing this technology and helping participants feel comfortable as they go through the check out line."
"Grocers have been extremely pleased with the efficiency of the new Quest card program. A strong partnership between the state and the grocers has certainly played a huge role in its success," said Brandon Scholz, President of the Wisconsin Grocers Association.
There are approximately 2,400 grocers participating in the EBT program across the state and approximately 79,000 people receiving food stamps. That number continues to increase as the EBT rollout continues.
Attached is a chart that includes the success rate for each stage of the EBT rollout, and the number of food stamp participants and grocers in each area.
| Division of Administrative Services |
Content Contact: Rachel Biittner