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Online screening tool helps families determine possible eligibility for Food and Nutrition Services benefits

For release: Immediate    Nov. 23, 2010
Contact: Lori Walston, 919/733-9190

RALEIGH—The state Department of Health and Human Services today announced the enhancement of an online screening tool that helps families in North Carolina determine if they may be eligible to receive Food and Nutrition benefits (formerly known as food stamps), as well as other benefits.

The Electronic Pre-Assessment Screening Service, or ePASS, is in keeping with Gov. Bev Perdue’s initiative to set government straight and make it work more efficiently for the people of North Carolina. ePass is a secure Internet-based tool that enables individuals or families to screen for their possible eligibility from any Internet-connected computer. The ePASS tool, which went online on July 1, now has the ability to save the information input into the system and provide the user with a completed application once the questions are completed.

“ePASS is a great tool for families,” said Sherry Bradsher, director of the Division of Social Services. “It allows families to more effectively use their time and resources and be better prepared when they come to local departments of social services to make applications for services.

“We are anticipating that local departments of social services will also benefit by having shorter wait times for families.”

As of October 2010, more than 1.5 million North Carolinians in nearly 687,000 households were receiving FNS benefits. From July to October this year local county departments of social services in North Carolina averaged more than 61,400 applications for services per month.

“The core mission of our Food and Nutrition Services Program is to help our residents feed their families,” said Bradsher. “With ePASS and recent program changes, hopefully more families will be able to receive the help they need to put food on their tables.

“The Food and Nutrition Services Program provides an immediate economic benefit to local communities, as every $5 in new benefits generates up to $9.20 in community spending.”

For more information on ePASS, go to epass.nc.gov. For more information about the Food and Nutrition Services Program go to www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/foodstamp or contact your local department of social services; for a list of county departments go to www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/local/.

 

 

 

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