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Learning What Works: SNAP’s New Employment and Training Demos

March 20, 2015 at 11:14 AM

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez today announced ten pilot projects — the result of a bipartisan agreement in the 2013 Farm Bill — that will test innovative approaches to encouraging and supporting employment among SNAP participants.  While modest in scope, the pilots show that Congress can collaborate around important issues like finding better ways to expand economic opportunity for low-income Americans.

During the Farm Bill debate, the Agriculture Committees took a hard look at SNAP’s job training program after the House adopted highly contentious work requirements.  Lawmakers realized that no one knew for certain what makes an effective SNAP employment and training (E&T) program.  Rather than adopt uninformed and highly risky changes that could end benefits to millions and reward states for doing so, Congress wisely created a robust demonstration project to test whether promising and innovative programs really do deliver.

The pilots represent a broad range of approaches, reflecting both regional economic circumstances and the diversity of people who turn to SNAP for food assistance.  The states receiving grants for the pilots are California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.  You can read more about them here.

Experimenting with new, and revising existing, approaches to SNAP’s work programs allow states to develop partnerships that will also last beyond the life of the pilots.  Equally important, the pilots will be rigorously evaluated to determine which parts of a state’s program increased employment and earnings and generated other positive family outcomes.

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