Over the past decade, there have been significant expansions in policies that support low-income working families, such as refundable tax credits, health insurance, child support enforcement, child care subsidies, and nutritional supports.  These programs help hard working families who struggle to meet basic needs due to low wages, irregular hours and lack of benefits. However, this safety net is incomplete.   CLASP advocates for improvements in individual programs and in the service delivery system to help ensure low-income families have the support they need to stay employed and provide for their families.

House Holds Hearing on SNAP E&T Pilots

By Helly Lee

Today, the House Committee on Agriculture hosted a hearing on the  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training (E&T) pilots created by the 2014 Farm Bill. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Vilsack was called to testify before the Committee on the implementation of the pilots.

As we mentioned in a recent blog post, USDA released their Request for Applications (RFA) for the pilots on August 25th. While the implementation of the pilot program is still in its early stages, it was clear at today’s hearing that Congress will be looking at the pilots for innovative and successful strategies that will inform future policy making.  In his testimony and in his answers to the members’ questions, Secretary Vilsack reiterated a few key points:

  • The purpose of the pilots is to better understand the barriers that SNAP participants face and help get more people into work and prepare them for better jobs. The majority of SNAP participants who can work already do, but do not make enough to lift them out of poverty.
  • The guidelines put forth in the RFA cast a wide net for innovative ideas and proposals from states and are designed to allow states and local partners the room to propose creative strategies to help reduce the number of people who need SNAP.
  • There is great emphasis on collaboration. The RFA requires a commitment from applicants to collaborate with State workforce and job training programs. USDA encourages proposals which include strategies that engage workforce, SNAP and other partners.

Secretary Vilsack also mentioned the work that he has already done to engage the Department of Labor and his efforts to directly connect with Governors across the country to inform them of this pilot opportunity. He observed that many Governors told him that they had not been aware of the pilots. This highlights the need for state advocates to also engage high level policymakers to ensure they are aware of the pilots and the opportunity to develop innovative strategies that support SNAP participants.

The deadline for applications is November 24. Applicants may submit questions regarding the RFA to USDA by this Friday, September 19th. USDA asks states intending to apply to submit a letter of intent by following Friday, September 26th.

For more information about SNAP E&T and the pilots, visit CLASP’s SNAP E&T resources page.

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