Inter-Branch Exchange Working Session: SNAP

Written by Paige Kupas, MDI Journalism Intern

Practitioners, policymakers, and academics came together on November 16, 2023, to discuss their shared work on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a government program that helps low-income individuals afford food, as part of an Inter-Branch Exchange working session. 

Marci Harris, CEO and co-founder of Popvox, a website connecting people and lawmakers through constituent engagement and outcomes-driven policymaking, and MDI Research Professor Dr. Amy O’Hara initiated the conversation after realizing a need to use data to bridge the gap between the legislative and executive branches in the U.S. government. Harris said that “our system does not have many feedback loops between policy, implementation, and evidence — and that leads to a lot of needless and unintended friction,” and this working session is a step to resolve those discrepancies. Harris and O’Hara joined forces with leaders from the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation and their colleagues working to improve digital services. 

The working session was successful, providing space for professionals working on SNAP policy to network and connect. O’Hara said that in the future she would like to see “additional working sessions held that focus on other topics, and getting more introductions made among experts working in the benefits access, evidence/evaluation, and policy spaces.” 

Future working sessions will focus on paid leave and disaster response in Spring 2024. O’Hara said that these working sessions are open to policy and program experts, researchers, and students who want to discuss data challenges and seek creative solutions.

image source: The Beeck Center