The Iowa Department of Human Services is taking the first step toward a paperless system of sending out benefits. D-H-S has been conducting a pilot project for food stamps in eastern Iowa that uses debit cards instead of the traditional paper stamps. D-H-S spokesman Roger Munns says that program has been successful and the department will begin the transition to debit cards in all 99 counties this summer.He says they’ll start in June in Linn County where they’ve run the pilot project, and the rest of the counties will all be using the debit cards by the end of the year. Munns says the debit cards have several benefits. He says it eliminates lost or stolen food stamp coupons, which has been a constant problem. He says it also allows recipients to use the debit cards and not have the stigma that food stamps sometimes carry. Munns says the change will impact thousands of Iowans.He says there are 60-thousand Iowans getting an average benefit of 177 dollars per month. The food stamps are an entitlement program that’s paid for by the federal government and administered by the state. Munns says debit cards are a new trend in government payments.He says other states have done this successfully, and some have even eliminated all paper payments. Munns says Iowa eventually plans to go paperless with its payments and child support payments are next up for the debit card system.
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