Food and Nutrition Service Releases Q&A on SNAP E&T Pilots

By Helly Lee

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) pilots are a highly anticipated opportunity to develop and implement innovative strategies that can shape and strengthen future policymaking. As interested states and their local partners plan their applications, numerous questions arise about what is allowable under the pilots.

On October 10, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released part two of their Q&A addressing questions from potential applicants. Topics include work requirements, time limits, pilot participants, screening, and allowable activities. Part one addressed eligible applicants, maintenance of effort, pilot funding versus 50-percent reimbursements, supplanting, financial questions, and evaluation design. The Q&A provides information that can help states and their local partners fine tune their applications to ensure they align with the goals of the pilots and the guidance detailed in the Request for Applications (RFA).

According to the Q&A, only state agencies that administer SNAP are eligible to apply for the pilots; however, they may partner with other local entities and clearly describe their respective roles in the application. Partners must also submit a letter of commitment with the application. The opportunity for partnerships between state agencies and local partners is a key feature, fostering collaboration among stakeholders that advances their shared goal: helping SNAP participants enter the workforce or secure better-paying jobs.

While the pilots provide an opportunity to test innovative strategies, state agencies must still adhere to federal rules, including statutory definitions of eligible activities. For example, Able Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) who are not working or participating in a qualifying activity are still subject to the three-month time limit on SNAP receipt (unless the pilot is operating in an area that is covered by a waiver of this time limit). Additionally, pilots may not compel individuals to participate if they are already exempt from SNAP work requirements under federal law.  States do have discretion to select participants from the population of work registrants or to serve other SNAP recipients on a voluntary basis. However, no more than 15 percent of participants can be non-work-registrants.

Pilot states are also able to access the 50-percent reimbursement funds available for the SNAP E&T program. In addition to providing pilot grant funds, FNS will continue to reimburse agencies for allowable expenditures that comply with current law and regulations. FNS will offer technical assistance to grantees throughout the process for 50-percent reimbursements. Applicants must indicate the reimbursement amounts anticipated in each year of their pilot project.

The pilots and SNAP E&T 50-percent reimbursement funds are critical resources that allow states to test and highlight strategies that will help SNAP participants enter the workforce or obtain better employment. Interested state SNAP agencies and their partners have until November 24, 2014 to submit their applications. Pilot awardees are anticipated to be announced in February 2015.

For more information about the SNAP E&T pilots, see: