WASHINGTON, March 2, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 10 states have been selected to take part in SNAP to Skills, a first-of-its-kind, peer-to-peer effort to help state agencies design improved employment and training programs for adults participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in order to help them find employment and ultimately move off the SNAP program.
"Fortunately, the economy is improving in most areas of the country, but it is still very challenging for people with limited education or more basic job skills to secure full time work and better paying jobs," said Vilsack. "Helping SNAP recipients move off the program due to higher job earnings produces a double win for the individual household and for the economy as a whole."
States selected for SNAP to Skills include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee. In October 2015, USDA announced that the Seattle Jobs Initiative would create an intensive technical assistance program to help states to build better, stronger Employment and Training (E&T) programs. These 10 states were chosen to participate based on their existing level of commitment and interest in expanding the SNAP E&T program, their ability to build effective partnerships with local training providers, and the availability of strong, job-driven workforce development programs in the state. The project will last two years, ending in September 2017.
E&T programs may include job search training, education activities (including basic skills training, English language learning, vocational training, postsecondary education), self-employment or on-the-job training, and job retention services.
The Seattle Jobs Initiative has a long-standing history of providing technical assistance in SNAP Employment and Training. The organization was a critical partner in building Washington State's Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET), a leading employment and training program.
SNAP E&T is a critical tool in each state's workforce development system that can provide employer-valued skills training to low-income, low-skilled Americans. SNAP E&T can help unemployed workers get back on their feet and can offer workers in low-wage jobs additional skills training to advance in their careers
With two-third of jobs created over the next decade expected to require at least some education or training beyond high school, expanding access to education and training for SNAP participants who have limited skills or earn low wages is critical to helping participants transition into economic self-sufficiency.
In March 2015, USDA announced the launch of 10 separate long-term SNAP E&T pilots, made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, to test and study innovative strategies that will run concurrently and in addition to the SNAP to Skills Project.
As the nation's first line of defense against hunger, SNAP helps put food on the table for millions of low income families and individuals every month and has never been more critical to the fight against hunger. SNAP helps many hard-working Americans supplement their family's nutrition and to make ends meet. SNAP is a vital supplement to the monthly food budget of more than 46 million low-income individuals. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, nine percent are over 60 and more than 40 percent of recipients live in households with earnings. In 2014, SNAP kept at least 4.7 million people, including nearly 2.1 million children, out of poverty.
Over the past seven years, USDA has enhanced federal nutrition programs, providing a critical safety net for millions of American children and families. By expanding access to nutritious foods and increasing awareness about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, USDA programs have made a real difference in the lives of many, promising a brighter, healthier future for our nation. March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results in improving nutrition and reducing food insecurity at www.medium.com/usda-results.