Front Page Focus was launched over 20 years ago, using Bob’s background as a journalist and editor. The concept was to focus on the biggest news story of the year and discuss its impact on the EBT business. In its early days we had trade journalists interview EBT subject matter experts but eventually Bob took over as the moderator. The biggest story this year, possibly of our lifetime, is the Covid-19 global pandemic. It has impacted not only the EBT business, but all of us both personally and professionally. EBT delivers services which enable millions of people to cope with the changes that happen in their lives, and 2020 saw unprecedented change in the numbers of people instantly needing supplemental nutrition and food assistance because of the economic shutdown initiated to try and stop the pandemic’s progression. In its way, Covid-19 and the prolonged ripple effect it has had has changed everything forever. We were invited to share our personal story about how everything changed forever for us six and a half years ago. We’ll share what happened, the relationship it had to this conference and all of you, and how it was ultimately a force for good. We’ll share how we’ve had to learn to adapt to things we do not control, and how we took that experience and used it to deal with this year’s pandemic. Our goal is to bring personal insights into how to cope when thrust into a world where everything has changed forever.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps millions of households with low or no incomes purchase food using electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards, which work like debit cards. With new payment technologies available and with the growing need for online purchasing options amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that SNAP benefit delivery evolves to ensure participants can purchase food in the same manner as other customers. We interviewed national SNAP experts, state officials, consumer advocates, and representatives of food retailers, EBT processors, and related technology companies to understand the current EBT system and how future benefit delivery could be more equitable and inclusive.