The tech and start-up explosion of recent past has done great work in making people’s lives more efficient with one caveat – lower-income individuals are unable to benefit from the apps in the same way their upper middle-class peers can.
While some apps only keep us busy while we sit at the doctor’s office, others help us organize our entire lives in the convenience of a smartphone. For low-income American, the processes they depend on frequently come with extensive paperwork, long lines, and extensive interviews.
Finally, technology is starting to look out for their needs too. Civic technology has seen a significant rise in interest and investment as tech workers try to capitalize on the opportunity to disrupt social programs. One program specifically they have targeted is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known for distributing food stamps.
FreshEBT is one great app that food stamp users are thrilled to try. Launched by mobile start-up Propel, FreshEBT allows you to check your food stamp balance and organize a budget for your shopping list. Felicia Graybill, a 28-year-old from Brooklyn told Wired, “If I need to check my balance outside the grocery store, now I can just privately look on my phone.”
Currently, FreshEBT has 250,000 active users and is in a position to increase those numbers. Propel just announced $4 million in seed money. They hope to make a profit from advertising on the app. Currently, FreshEBT offers coupons and rewards programs with some grocery store chains which users can conveniently find within the app.
Outside of the private sector, some states are working to roll out services via apps and websites to help their citizens. Texas and New York provide apps for welfare recipients to better manage their benefits package. Overall, most states do not have the budget to develop these services truly.