ATLANTA, March 20, 2015 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, joined by Labor Secretary Tom Perez, today announced the recipients of $200 million in competitive awards to fund and evaluate pilot projects in 10 states to help Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) participants find jobs and work toward self-sufficiency. Projects in California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington were chosen.
"Helping people find and keep good jobs is the right way to transition recipients off of SNAP assistance and ultimately reduce program costs. These pilots will give USDA and our state partners the opportunity to explore innovative, cost-effective ways to help SNAP recipients find and keep gainful employment in order to build a stronger future for their families," Secretary Vilsack said during a visit to Gwinnett Technical College. "This initiative is a reflection of USDA's full commitment to ensuring that SNAP recipients who are able to work can put food on the table while they get the skills they need to compete for jobs in a global economy. Helping people find good jobs is a far better strategy for reducing food assistance spending than across the board cuts."
Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, the grants announced today fund pilot projects focusing on target populations identified by the legislation, including individuals with low skills, able-bodied adults without dependents and SNAP recipients working in very low-wage or part-time jobs. The selected pilots represent a wide array of balanced approaches—including skills training, work-based learning, support services such as transportation and child care, and other job-driven strategies—and reflect the wide geographic diversity of the SNAP population. The grants will fund projects for three years.
"These grants are the result of unprecedented collaboration and an unparalleled focus on using every available tool to help people get access to good jobs and a firm grip on the ladder of opportunity," said Secretary Perez. "By testing and then applying proven strategies across the federal government and throughout the workforce system, we're taking on the unfinished business of the remarkable economic recovery underway - making sure that every person can share in the prosperity being created and that the promise of opportunity extends to all."
Secretary Vilsack also announced that two respected research organizations, Mathematica Policy Research and MDRC, will conduct rigorous, independent evaluations of the projects that will help USDA to identify which approaches are most effective for the diverse population of SNAP recipients. The most effective strategies could then be undertaken throughout the country.
Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon emphasized the importance of the these programs during a related event today in Fresno, Calif. "SNAP Employment and Training plays a critical role in workforce training for low-skilled, vulnerable adults who may not otherwise receive job training," he said. "Along with the pilots, USDA will be working with all of its state partners to strengthen their core SNAP Employment and Training programs and incorporate job-driven elements into their existing services."
Projects selected include:
- Fresno County Department of Social Services, Calif.
- Delaware Department of Health and Social Services
- Georgia Division of Family and Children Services
- Illinois Department of Human Services
- Kansas Department for Children and Families
- Kentucky Department for Community Based Services
- Mississippi Department of Human Services
- Virginia Department of Social Services
- Vermont Department for Children and Families
- Washington Department of Social and Health Services
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, these programs include Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.