NSC participates in SNAP E&T events

By Rachel Unruh, Brooke DeRenzis, April 30, 2015

NSC discussed opportunities to build skills-focused SNAP E&T programs during two separate events hosted by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) this month.

On April 23, Chief of Staff Rachel Unruh facilitated a roundtable discussion at FNS’s Midwest Region SNAP Employment & Training Forum. The three-day forum brought together SNAP state administrators from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin to discuss how they are working to make their SNAP E&T programs more job-driven, integrated and effective in creating pathways to well-paying jobs. During the roundtable, How to Make Your SNAP E&T Program Vision a Reality, Rachel was joined by workforce development experts Amanda Cage (Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership), Guy Louden (Jane Adams Resource Corporation), Ray Prendergast (Richard J. Daley Community College), Carrie Thomas (Chicago Jobs Council), and Melissa Young (Heartland Alliance). The group shared best practices related to career pathways and sector strategies and engaged in a dialogue with the state administrators about how to partner with existing systems in their states rather than “re-creating the wheel.” Rachel noted the importance of state SNAP and TANF agencies having a seat at the table in state WIOA planning conversations to ensure that state resources and initiatives are aligned to help low-income individuals – particularly those with barriers to employment – get the skills and supports they need to advance to self-sufficiency.

On April 29, State Policy Director Bryan Wilson and State Policy Analyst Brooke DeRenzis partnered with colleagues at CLASP to provide a training session for teams from the 10 sites selected for SNAP E&T pilots. The meeting was hosted by FNS, and states teams included staff from social and human service agencies, labor agencies, and other partner organizations. The session, Best Practices in Partnership Building and Career Pathways, focused on how to connect SNAP E&T programs with existing programs and promising practices in the workforce system. During the session, Bryan provided an overview of WIOA and described the key skills strategies that states can pursue under the new law. He stressed that the WIOA state planning process offers an opportunity to integrate SNAP E&T into states’ broader workforce development strategies. Brooke discussed opportunities for state SNAP agencies to partner with workforce boards, community colleges, community-based organizations, one-stop operators, and others to create SNAP E&T programs that integrate skill-building and supportive services. She underscored the multiple benefits of partnerships, noting that partnerships can help SNAP E&T programs leverage the existing expertise and resources of their workforce partners. David Socolow (CLASP) gave an overview of the career pathways approach and described best practices from states like Minnesota.

With generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The Annie E. Casey Foundation, National Skill Coalition is partnering with the Seattle Jobs Initiative to provide technical assistance to select states looking to develop or expand skills-focused SNAP E&T programs. For more information on that project, please contact Brooke DeRenzis at