The federal government and South Carolina are using a new grant aimed at helping streamline the food stamp process. They're hoping a million dollars will help three Low Country counties come up with solutions that can then be copied statewide.
For people who need food stamps, different surroundings dictate different needs, so the Palmetto State's trying to figure out how to streamline everyone's process.
"The initial focus of the grant is going to be in Charleston, an urban setting," said social services director Fred Washington, Jr. "Later in the year, maybe nine months, Beaufort, representing a more rural environment, will be included."
The goal is to make the entire process easier, from the application forms to eliminating unnecessary trips to the main office in Beaufort.
"We're trying to figure out ways to reduce that," said Washington. "What can be done on the telephone, what are some other mechanisms or strategies we can invoke that would make it simpler."
One way they've already had success simplifying things is online with a food stamp calculator that lets people know if it's worth the trouble to apply. Washington says a lot of people don't realize how much of a need there is for better service in Beaufort County, since close to a third of the eligible people don't get food stamps.
"While Beaufort County has a certain level of wealth, there are pockets of poverty in this county that rival any other in the state," Washington.