Mobile Applications

Fresh EBT Makes Food Stamps Digital

Propel, the startup that helps people who receive food stamps manage their benefits, announced Thursday (April 27) that it raised $4 million in seed venture funding.

According to a report in TechCrunch, the funding comes from Andreessen Horowitz, Omidyar Network, The Durant Company and SciFi VC. Previous investors also participated in the round of fundraising, including Jay Borenstein, WinWin and the Financial Solutions Lab at the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

“We’re excited to prove that venture-backed startups can responsibly address social issues, too,” Founder and CEO Jimmy Chen said in the report. “In our business model, the best way to amplify our impact is to grow our business, by getting more users on the platform or by finding them more savings on groceries.”

Propel developed a free app for food stamp recipients called Fresh EBT, with TechCrunch reporting the EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer card, which is how recipients receive aid from the  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the food stamp program).

To use the EBT card in its current form, people have to call a hotline and save receipts in order to manage their benefits. With Fresh EBT, recipients can check their card balance from their smartphone, browse location-based deals, see which stores accept SNAP and create a shopping list, reported TechCrunch. Propel says it has more than 250,000 customers using the app at least once per week and that the ultimate aim is to help users easily access different types of services, not only food stamps.

“More broadly, if public sector service becomes less dependable during this administration, 20 million American families will still remain food insecure,” Chen said in the report. “At Propel, our charter is to continue to help those Americans put food on the table. As a privately funded organization, we have the ability to persist despite political trends and to serve low-income Americans directly by combining the best public sector, private sector and nonprofit sector programs to create a more effective safety net.”

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