USDA and DOL encourage SNAP State Workforce Administrators’ and Workforce Development Boards’ coordination

By Brooke DeRenzis, Katie Spiker, April 04, 2016

On March 31, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Labor released a letter to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) State Workforce Administrators and Workforce Development Boards and American Jobs Centers. The letter encourages these entities to coordinate efforts to better connect SNAP participants, especially able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs), to employment and training opportunities provided through the workforce development system.

Under current law, ABAWDs are eligible for SNAP funds for only three months in any 36-month period unless they are working or participating in training activities for 20 hours a week. This restriction, however, can be waived in areas with high unemployment. During the recession, many states were able to waive this time limit, allowing ABAWDs to receive benefits for a longer period of time. As the economy improves, and states are no longer eligible for these waivers, ABAWDs risk losing access to SNAP benefits.

The March 31 letter highlights SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) programs as one way to help ABAWDs gain the skills necessary to increase the likelihood of employment while maintaining SNAP benefits. The letter also underscores the opportunity for American Job Centers and their partners to provide ABAWDs and other SNAP participants with access to WIOA programs and other types of training. NSC has several resources on how states can focus SNAP E&T programs on skill-building and has advocated for states to use WIOA planning and implementation to better align SNAP E&T and other programs in the workforce system.       

NSC will be releasing a policy brief with recommendations on building skills through SNAP E&T later this week. Stay tuned to our blog for more!