FNS Announces SNAP E&T Pilots in 10 States

By Randi Hall and Helly Lee

Last year’s Farm Bill provided $200 million for . While at least one person is employed in over half of all SNAP households with a working-age, non-disabled adult, these pilots will test whether SNAP E&T could more effectively connect unemployed and underemployed recipients to work. The goal is to help participants develop the skills they need to secure good jobs that provide economic security and reduce participation in SNAP.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service (FNS) announced the 10 states selected for funding. The selected pilots include a mix of mandatory and voluntary E&T programs, many of which also include career pathway models. Several of the pilots target individuals who face significant barriers to employment, including homeless adults, the long-term unemployed, individuals in the correctional system, and individuals with substance addiction illness. Each pilot involves multiple partners (such as workforce boards, community colleges, adult education providers, community-based organizations, and local employers) to connect workers to resources and services already available in the community. 

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez tweeted about his visit to  Gwinnett Technical College to highlight how grants will help SNAP recipients secure good jobs and move off assistance.

In California, the Fresno Department of Social Services will use its pilot funding to expand the Fresno Bridge Academy, a workforce development program of Reading and Beyond that helps unemployed and underemployed adults obtain jobs or become job ready. Over the course of 18 months, the Fresno Bridge Academy helps participants develop employment and training goals, as well as access job training programs and employment. For those who are already employed, the program helps them find better jobs, earn more in their current jobs, or learn new skills necessary for promotion. The Fresno Bridge Academy also partners with adult schools and city colleges to provide additional training and certifications for program participants.

Through the pilot, the Fresno Bridge Academy will strengthen their existing services, in providing education, job training, support services, subsidized and unsubsidized employment, retention services, ongoing case management, and financial incentives for SNAP E&T participants. The program is unique for its multi-generational approach, which helps parents obtain jobs skills and employment while providing services that help their children excel in school and access community resources.

The SNAP E&T pilots will be evaluated by MDRC and Mathematica, which will measure the impact of each initiative and inform future policymaking. In the announcement of the pilots, Undersecretary Concannon also emphasized that USDA will be working with all states to strengthen their core programs and build in best practices from the workforce development system.  While these pilots provide full federal funding for the selected states, other states willing to invest non-federal funds can draw down 50 percent reimbursement to strengthen their E&T services.