The U. S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service today announced the availability of up to $5 million in competitive grants to help fund projects that lead to greater efficiencies and improved outcomes of Employment and Training (E&T) services supported by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP E&T programs help people on SNAP get the skills they need to find good jobs so they are able to afford food and transition off of the SNAP program. The grants announced today will complement additional opportunities to test innovative approaches to employment and training that will come soon under the new Farm Bill.
"Forty-two percent of SNAP participants live in households where at least one person is working. This is a historic high, and clearly demonstrates that SNAP recipients want to work," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The additional grant support USDA is providing to state employment and training programs, along with new tools in the 2014 Farm Bill, will help SNAP recipients build comprehensive skill sets and match them with the good paying jobs they need to be able to move off the program."
SNAP E&T services help move work-ready adults into employment, offer re-training opportunities to the recently unemployed, and help participants with limited education or low literacy levels achieve milestones that move them closer to economic independence. USDA has made employment for SNAP participants a high priority and has begun working with stakeholders to determine how the SNAP E&T program can be made more effective and efficient. This grant opportunity is part of the Department's continuing focus on helping SNAP participants gain meaningful employment.
In addition, the new Farm Bill will strengthen the SNAP Employment and Training program, providing funding for up to 10 three-year pilot projects that help workers find gainful employment, increased earned income, and reduced reliance on public assistance. Pilot projects will target those with low skills, urban and rural communities, opportunities for quick employment, and both mandatory and voluntary E&T programs. The Food and Nutrition Service will release more information about these projects in the near future.
"SNAP helps eligible low-income families put food on the table. It also supports critical and needed employment skills and job training so that people can become self-sufficient through gainful employment," said Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. "USDA looks forward to using new resources provided through the Farm Bill to connect even more SNAP participants with better work opportunities."
State agencies or private nonprofit groups such as community-based or faith-based organizations, food banks and other emergency feeding organizations are eligible to apply for the grants announced today. This year's Request for Applications seeks diverse proposals. The most successful grant proposals will focus on additional FY 2014 priorities, including projects that examine office processes and identify and implement efficiencies; and those that use technology to achieve procedural changes (such as electronic application filing, document imaging, telephone interviews, and web-based access to case status information) to simplify the enrollment process, improve reporting requirements and improve customer service and avoid administrative burden.
Grant applications are due May 2014. Awards will be announced in September 2014. The Request for Applications is available on www.grants.gov and on the FNS website. The grants will fund a performance period of September 30, 2014 through August 31, 2017.