Mayor Launches App To Help Keep Food On Table

Mayor Edwin Lee

SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee launched a new app on Tuesday, December 3, known as, Promptly, which is aimed at ensuring food is kept on the table for human services clients, according to a press release from the Mayor’s website. This is the first application where the county can send a text message to notify clients of the San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) to ensure they take action to prevent losing their benefits.

“Our City strives for strong, healthy communities that can participate in a prosperous economy, and Promptly helps us achieve this by enabling beneficiaries of programs like CalFresh to keep food on the table for their families,” said Mayor Lee. “I am impressed with the partnership with Code for America that uses innovation to help some of our most vulnerable residents.

The app was created by Code For America Fellows who worked alongside the HSA and the Mayor’s office. The app will first work alongside CalFresh clients and will move onto other programs. At the current moment, changes in a client’s benefits are sent via mail and sometimes those documents could be lost, which could affect a client’s benefits to expire.

“The Human Services Agency mission is to promote well-being and self-sufficiency among individuals, families and communities in San Francisco,” said HSA Executive Director Trent Rhorer. “We must constantly improve ways for our residents to access our benefits and remain enrolled to receive the services they need.  Promptly is a huge step forward towards doing just that.”

The city hopes the new app, which will deliver the text message in addition, to a mailed notice, will prevent a possible lapse of time or loss of benefits. More than 700 users have already signed up for the app to receive text messages regarding their benefits.

“In early piloting of the program, HSA has texted around 100 clients with a 50 percent response rate—a far greater response rate than traditional mailers or email,” states the press release.

“We are excited to let HSA clients know about Promptly. Both HSA and our team believe that text messaging is a quick and easy way to reach people who are in danger of not receiving necessary benefits. If clients receive a text message that enables them to stay on benefits – that’s food that a client has for the next six months,” said Andy Hull, a Code for America Fellow. “This project was a true collaboration between Code for America and the City of San Francisco, and we’re looking forward to expanding Promptly to every HSA client in San Francisco.”

By LaDale Anderson