Stacy Taylor | Head of Partnerships and Policy | Propel
Fresh EBT is a free smartphone app that allows users to check their SNAP (food stamps)/EBT balance and suggests relevant services to improve financial health, ranging from grocery stores to museum discounts to jobs. It is one of the most popular government services apps, used by over 2 million SNAP participants every month. Fresh EBT is used in 50 states and every US territory, can can be downloaded and used for free at www.freshebt.com.
Why Fresh EBT?
We launched Fresh EBT for a simple reason: checking the balance of an EBT card can be shockingly difficult.
“Please help us who have 4 kids and a busy life and can’t spend 10-20 mins on the phone calling to check only balance.” –Yevette R.
Prior to Fresh EBT, cardholders had to check their SNAP/cash balance by calling a phone hotline. Mothers told us stories of navigating a complex phone hotline while juggling kids at the grocery store; we spoke to people with pockets full of old grocery receipts used to track their balance; we learned about the shame of having a transaction declined because of insufficient EBT funds. We thought there must be a better answer.
“Instead of entering a million numbers over the course of your time…you just open an app and there is all the info you need about your personal card and so many more helpful tools. Plus its a lot less embarrassing to quietly check my app versus having to make a call. Our life is hard. This makes one aspect of it easy for all my family to use and understand! My family uses it to quietly check our balance often at check out or when our phone service is not able to be paid for awhile.” -Ann
Fresh EBT enables balance checking and transaction history within a mobile app, similar to a mobile banking app you’d get from a consumer bank. Fresh EBT enables EBT cardholders in all US states and territories to see their balance and transaction history, instantly, securely, and for free. A recent Harvard Business School study found that Fresh EBT users are better able to budget their benefits throughout the month, which results in one fewer day of extreme hunger each month.
In addition to balance checking, Fresh EBT introduces users to other ways that they can improve their financial health, including grocery store coupons, a map of EBT-authorized farmer’s markets, low-cost recipes, and employment opportunities. SNAP participants have clipped over $20 million dollars in coupons and submitted over 75,000 job applicants through Fresh EBT. The combination of these services helps improve financial health by both stretching existing dollars and increasing overall savings.
“Fresh EBT has made my situation better by making at least one part of our financial crisis easier. The fact that I can have all of this information in one simple app makes me feel better. There is no frustration. I can get coupons, see my budget and do all of this quickly. Again, it’s frustrating to call all the time to get my balance. I have 4 children and life is complicated. Please just make my life a little bit easier.” -Jill S.
“I love it. Its an all in 1 balance, planner, prep, it helps you learn and utilize your EBT Benefits the best healthiest way with your budget…I’d be lost without it.” -Melissa V.
Fresh EBT partners with states, counties, and non profit organizations to share this service with SNAP participants. If you would like to share Fresh EBT posters are available to download here (and in Spanish). A video is available here. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to learn more.
Fresh EBT is free and always will be free for SNAP participants. How do we provide services for free? We connect EBT participants to money-saving and income-generating opportunities. Some content partners pay for these services. Whether paid or unpaid, we all vet partners. We select partners who provide tangible positive value to SNAP participants, who can help us responsibly and intentionally provide SNAP participants with tools to improve their financial health. Read more about how we select partners here. Propel, Inc., the makers of Fresh EBT, was originally founded in 2014 through Blue Ridge Labs, a program now run by the Robin Hood Foundation.
Stacy McLoughlin Taylor is the Head of Policy and Partnerships at Propel, Inc. Prior to joining Propel she worked in the non-profit and advocacy community on access to quality financial services, access to government benefits, and elevating client voice to inform program and policy design.