Removing Barriers to Program Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from SNAP

Last registered on July 21, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Removing Barriers to Program Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from SNAP
Initial registration date
July 14, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
July 21, 2022, 11:22 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, New York University and NBER

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Many safety net program applications result in procedural denials due to the administrative burden associated with applying. We study the effect of an alternative application process for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) designed to alleviate barriers to program access associated with the intake interview. Using a field experiment involving over 60,000 applicants in Los Angeles County, we find that access to on-demand interviews significantly increases long-term participation rates and expedites the time to approval. Our findings highlight the importance of incorporating flexibility into the design of program integrity policies to minimize procedural denials.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Homonoff, Tatiana and Jason Somerville. 2022. "Removing Barriers to Program Enrollment: Experimental Evidence from SNAP." AEA RCT Registry. July 21.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Our intervention provides access to flexible, on-demand interviews during SNAP enrollment.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Time to case determination, Initial application approval (overall and by week), Reapplications and longer-term SNAP participation.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Benefit amount
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Applicants assigned to the treatment group receive a communication from GetCalFresh via text or email providing them with information on how to contact the E2E line to complete their interview. Applicants can call this number at their convenience and connect directly to a caseworker to complete their interview. Control group members receive the standard communications from GetCalFresh informing them that the county would be in touch with them to complete an interview. Applicants in both experimental groups also receive reminder messages on the following business day. The county assign all applicants an interview through the standard processes regardless of their treatment status. Random assignment is conducted over a six-month period between October 2020 to May 2021 and is rolled out in stages to the county's 31 offices.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
We assign 75 percent of our sample to the treatment and 25 percent to the control using a random number generate.
Randomization Unit
CalFresh Application
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
65,000 applications
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
48,750 treatment; 16,250 control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
1.27 percentage point

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials