Making Public Benefits More Discoverable
Helping low-income Americans discover benefits with a streamlined deployment pipeline.
About a third of Americans are eligible for essential work-support programs like SNAP (foodstamps), Medicaid (healthcare), and Cash Assistance. Eligible families are not automatically enrolled in these programs — claiming them requires navigating a constellation of applications and forms administered separately by city, state, and federal agencies. This scattered user experience has a negative impact on our communities. Every year, more than 103 million Americans leave $80 billion in benefits unclaimed.
One-stop benefits search.
Benefit Kitchen, a small Brooklyn-based startup, provides a to-the-dollar estimate of a family’s benefit eligibility through its screener app. Through its web app, a head of household can input information about the household’s demographics, income, and expenses, and get back benefits, budget, and referral information.
However, after launching the app, the Benefit Kitchen team encountered some challenges as they grew to serve more states: the process of deploying updates to the web application was becoming more time-consuming and error-prone.
This new asset pipeline is so much easier for me to deploy, and adding new states to our service no longer raises questions of whether we’ll need to add server horsepower to accommodate the compile process!
Introducing a deployment pipeline.
When 8th Light’s team joined the project, they noticed that the application was doing a lot of work on the server side, even if the majority of the app remained unchanged. Each time the Benefit Kitchen team updated the app, they would manually precompile all of the code via the command line and deploy to an AWS EC2 instance. Every time Benefit Kitchen added a new state to its service, the deployment process would become increasingly longer.
After updating the codebase to remove duplicated effort and separating the deployment process with a custom pipeline, deployment process time and monthly server costs were cut in half. Additionally, the once error-prone CLI commands required in the earlier deployment setup were simplified.
Benefit Kitchen’s new infrastructure allows them to make updates much more rapidly, reliably, and cost-effectively.