Community Action and SNAP E&T:

A Flexible Approach to CAA Involvement

Introduction

Community Action Agencies (CAAs) seeking to develop new employment and jobs training programs or expand on existing employment services should consider what the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) program has to offer. 

Many CAAs already know about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp program), which provides cash assistance to low-income individuals and families to help them supplement their food budgets and purchase food. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the funding, with states involved in general program administration and benefit eligibility determinations and issuance. Aside from a few exceptions, SNAP participants must also fulfill certain work requirements as part of the program, such as not voluntarily quitting a job without cause, and taking a reasonable job if one is offered. 

SNAP E&T grew out of SNAP as a way promote self-sufficiency amongst SNAP participants by offering them job and skills training and connecting them to employers. Each state’s SNAP agency must establish its own SNAP E&T program and produce an annual plan that details how it will use SNAP E&T funding. Individuals who receive SNAP benefits can, and in some states must, take part in SNAP E&T. SNAP E&T can fund activities including job development and training, career counseling, and tuition payments, as well as reimbursements for expenses that SNAP E&T participants incur to participate in the program, such as transportation, books, dependent care, and uniforms. 

A key component of SNAP E&T is a state’s collaboration with third-party partners to help provide services around employment and training. In many places, that is where community-based organizations (CBOs) such as CAAs come in. Given the role that CAAs play and their experience engaging members of their communities in a host of programs, CAAs often are uniquely positioned to provide and coordinate the kinds of programs and services to individuals in low-income communities that can be funded in whole or in part by SNAP E&T.

With that in mind, this resource was developed as a way for CAAs to better understand the SNAP E&T program and the variations that exists from state to state. CAAs can also use this primer to assess the opportunities to tap into a new source of funding, leveraging their existing experience providing workforce development and case management services. This primer links to many existing resources intended to help organizations plan and implement a SNAP E&T program, and supplements those resources by helping CAAs see how they can fit into the existing program framework in their states.

Remember, SNAP E&T funding is F.L.E.X.I.B.L.E. and thus can provide CAAs with flexible, new ways in which to engage clients in employment and training efforts.

This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.