Ten states receive SNAP E&T pilot grants

By Brooke DeRenzis, March 20, 2015

On March 20, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Labor announced $165 million in grants to 10 states as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) pilot program. California (Fresno), Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington received awards ranging from $3 million to $22 million.  Representatives from six of these states attended a 2014 meeting hosted by National Skill Coalition, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Seattle Jobs Initiative for states interested in developing, expanding, or strengthening their SNAP E&T programs.

The SNAP E&T pilot program was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. It is intended to test a range of strategies for helping SNAP participants find jobs, grow their earnings, and reduce their reliance on public assistance.  In accordance with Farm Bill requirements, the projects differ by geographic area and by whether participation is mandatory or voluntary for those subject to work registration requirements. An independent evaluation will measure pilot projects’ impact on participants’ employment, earnings, and other outcomes.

Through the pilot projects, states will develop new strategies for building the skills of SNAP participants and removing barriers to work. All projects include a career pathways component and case management. As explained in our policy brief with Seattle Jobs Initiative, these projects can build on lessons learned from Washington State’s successful Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) program.

States that did not apply for or receive a pilot grant can use other SNAP E&T resources to develop a program focused on skill- building. In particular, states can use SNAP E&T formula funds and 50 percent reimbursement grants (“50-50 funds”). Through 50-50 funds, the federal government can reimburse states for up to 50 percent of E&T program costs that exceed their formula grant, including adult education and training costs. States can also be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of supportive service expenses necessary for individuals to participate in SNAP E&T, such as child care, transportation, and supplies and books.

Starting this spring, National Skills Coalition will partner with the Seattle Jobs Initiative to provide technical assistance to states looking to develop or expand skills-centered SNAP E&T programs, even if they have not received a pilot grant. To kick off this work, we will host a SNAP E&T webinar in April. Visit NSC’s website for more SNAP E&T resources and updates.