U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages states to make SNAP E&T programs job-driven

By Brooke DeRenzis, December 18, 2015

Earlier this week, USDA Undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon issued an official communication to state SNAP agency commissioners urging them to incorporate job-driven elements into their SNAP employment and training (E&T) programs. The communication identified skill-building for SNAP participants as one of USDA’s top priorities.

It also described the following actions that Commissioners can take to make SNAP E&T programs job-driven:

  • Connect programs to jobs that exist in the labor market and make them responsive to the needs of local industries and employers
  • Create opportunities for participants to earn employer-valued postsecondary credentials that are portable and stackable
  • Promote practices that accelerate learning and transitions to employment, such as contextualized learning, dual enrollment, bridge programs, and career pathways
  • Help participants gain work experience by encouraging work-based learning opportunities, such as internships, pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships, and on-the-job training
  • Provide robust support services to address barriers to training and employment 
  • Leverage resources by developing partnerships with other education and training agencies and institutions, such as community colleges, community-based organizations, American Job Centers, adult education providers, and TANF agencies
  • Use FNS’s first-ever reporting requirements and additional metrics to measure outcomes and manage program success.

These recommendations reflect best practices in SNAP E&T that NSC has promoted for the past several years. With support from the Annie E. Casey and W.K. Kellogg foundations, NSC has partnered with Seattle Jobs Initiative to elevate SNAP E&T’s potential to prepare participants for family-supporting jobs. As Undersecretary Concannon’s communication notes, Seattle Jobs Initiative is now leading Food and Nutrition Service’s SNAP E&T Center of Excellence, which will provide resources to help states expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs. NSC applauds USDA for its commitment to expanding skill-building opportunities for SNAP participants.