By Katrina Johnston, Public Affairs Specialist, FNS
The 2023 SNAP E&T State Institute, hosted by the Food and Nutrition Service, brought together 20 state SNAP agencies for a two-day event that aimed to assess and enhance their SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) programs. The theme of the event, "Mind the Gap: Building a Bridge from Vision to Outcomes in Your SNAP E&T Program," emphasized the importance of addressing gaps and challenges in these programs to achieve better outcomes for participants.
Keynote speakers Stacy Dean, FNS deputy undersecretary, Shavana Howard, FNS senior advisor, Aisha Nyandoro from Springboard to Opportunities and Maria Kim of REDF provided valuable guidance to the participants, setting the stage for constructive discussions and workshops.
At the Institute participants discussed the use of gap analyses to identify areas for improvement in SNAP E&T programs. This systematic approach allowed state agencies to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, enabling them to create strategic action plans to bridge those gaps effectively. By leveraging data, state agencies could better serve their SNAP populations and advance equity in their programs.
“Be intentional about acknowledging inequities – identify them and address them head on – because advancing equity in the workforce is the only way we’ll close the unemployment gap.” - Stacy Dean Deputy Under Secretary, Food and Nutrition Service
The event featured a range of informative sessions that provided practical guidance and resources to attendees. Topics included selecting quality SNAP E&T providers, program monitoring, customer engagement using behavioral science, and more. These sessions equipped state agencies with the knowledge and tools needed to strengthen their programs and better serve SNAP recipients seeking employment opportunities.
By emphasizing data-driven approaches, equity, and collaboration, FNS is working to improve the lives and prospects of SNAP recipients, helping them secure quality jobs that offer financial security, jobs that enhance communities, and jobs that provide purpose and opportunity to grow. These efforts represent a significant step forward in the mission of SNAP E&T programs to help SNAP participants gain skills, training, or work experience that increases their ability to obtain regular employment.
In addition to the Institute, FNS recently announced two E&T focused grants:
- SNAP E&T National Partnership Grants: $5 million in funding awarded to four nonprofit national organizations. These grants support organizations in raising awareness of SNAP E&T and providing training to their network members, thereby expanding the reach and impact of these programs across the country.
- SNAP E&T DATA Grants: $5 million in funding awarded to five state agencies to enhance data collection and reporting systems in SNAP E&T programs. These grants, which prioritize equity and data reliability, will empower states to assess impacts of program operational decisions and work towards more equitable outcomes for SNAP participants, fostering a data-driven approach to program improvement.