Since its creation in 2016. one million people have downloaded the convenient FreshEBT app. It was created by the Brooklyn startup, Propel, and enables food stamp users to check their balance and keep track of receipts easily and quickly.

What's more, users now get access to healthy recipes, job opportunities, and budgeting tools. Having worked as Facebook project manager, Jimmy Chen set up Propel as an anti-poverty software company.

With the app, users no longer need to phone the 800 number, nor do they need to keep receipts to track their balance.

This has made life much easier for the more than one million users. The app is easy to use and secure.

However, in the past few months, the app has been unavailable in several states. According to The New York Times, food giant Conduent is behind this glitch. As a government food contractor, the company runs food stamp networks in more than half of all US states. Because the FreshEBT app uses Conduent's database, the food giant has been able to thwart its smooth running.

To many, this is just one example of how a small startup comes to face off against a giant. But, Jimmy Chen told the New York Times that his company only wanted to "apply the Silicon Valley playbook to poverty in some way." He went on to explain that new companies often need to "build on top of the old world to be successful."

Why has Conduent got a problem with the FreshEBT app?

So far, Propel has not had any issues with other government contractors managing food stamp networks.

According to The New York Times, Chen is unsure why Conduent has decided to take action. In fact, Propel has been contacting the food giant for an explanation. In correspondence, Conduent accused Propel of launching the app without prior Conduent consent as well as overloading its networks. To counter Propel's "capacity ambush" the food giant took steps to block the FreshEBT app.

The New York Times spoke to one app user who loves it and uses it on a regular basis. In February she got an error message on her app, stating that the information was currently unavailable in Maine.

It took an entire month before she gained access to her balance and the convenient recipes again.

Conduent launches a competing app

According to the New York Times, Conduent has since launched its own food stamp management app. However, Conduent's ConnectEBT App is far less popular than FreshEBT, receiving lower ratings and far fewer reviews in the Apple and Google stores.

So far, ConnectEBT only features balance information, but Conduent has promised to broaden the app's range of functions. At present, the ConnectEBT app is only available in Oklahoma, Utah, and South Carolina, however, the food giant hopes to add further states while also making more app features available.

SNAP - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The New York Times reports that currently, 40 million American avail of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This includes one in four children across America. The benefits of this scheme are far-reaching, as it provides low-income families access to more nutritious food and has several other positive effects.

For its part, Propel has made life a little easier for food stamp users and one would hope that the company's anti-poverty efforts can continue without outside interference.