Community Action and SNAP E&T:

A Flexible Approach to CAA Involvement

Find your state’s SNAP E&T plan

While flexibility is a hallmark of SNAP E&T, most of the decisions about how to apply that flexibility are made by the direct recipient of SNAP E&T funding – the state – which designs and operates its program according to a written state plan. Each year, USDA FNS requires states to submit their SNAP E&T plan for the next Federal Fiscal Year by August 15. Approved plans are available for public inspection at the headquarters of state agencies responsible for SNAP E&T, and most agencies also post them on their websites.

States have the flexibility to decide in their written SNAP E&T plan which SNAP recipients to serve, whether taking part in SNAP E&T is required or mandatory, the types of services to be offered, case management, budgets, expected costs, and rates of reimbursement for certain participant costs. Another key detail in the plan is how the state works with third-party partners. While some states provide the services directly, others engage with a variety of partners to support SNAP participants (See USDA FNS’ resources, SNAP E&T Program Toolkit; SNAP E&T State Plan Handbook). A CAA interested in the program should, at the outset, locate and read its state’s SNAP E&T plan to determine the extent to which it involves third-party partners, and whether there are opportunities to participate within the state’s existing program framework.

Third-party partnerships take many forms. States work with community colleges, community-based organizations (CBOs), American Jobs Centers (one-stop job centers for job seekers authorized under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act of 2014), and other organizations to provide different SNAP E&T services. For many potential partners, an initial step is to submit a partner assessment so that the state SNAP E&T agency may determine how suitable an organization is to its SNAP E&T program. Assessments take many forms across states, but may include surveys, requests for information (RFIs), requests for qualification, or requests for procurement (RFP). Whatever the method, CAAs should fill out assessments in an accurate and timely manner, and be prepared to answer questions about organizational programs, funding sources, existing resources, staffing, and administrative and financial capacity to participate in SNAP E&T (See USDA FNS’ resource, Securing Third-Party Partners for SNAP E&T Programs).

States look for partners whose programs and operations align with the key elements of their SNAP E&T programs. As USDA FNS’ SNAP E&T Operations Handbook notes, states want partners that have the “right services,” “right funds,” right capacity,” and “right participants.” In many areas, this makes CBOs such as CAAs a good potential fit for SNAP E&T.

CAAs understand the communities they serve. The federal CSBG Act builds community involvement into a CAAs governance structure with a unique tripartite board structure that includes representatives of the community served, elected public officials, and private community interests. CAAs often possess experience working with people who receive SNAP benefits, and many may already facilitate SNAP applications and case management. Many CAAs also provide other employment and workforce training programs (see the section, X-Factors: CAA Considerations). All CAAs receive federal funding and are familiar with the administrative requirements that come with the funding, including working with a pass-through state grant recipient. As a result, CAAs likely have in place much of the financial and administrative infrastructure necessary to execute effective SNAP E&T efforts and build effective SNAP E&T partnerships. Understanding what role the state contemplates for CAAs in its state plan can thus shape a CAA’s strategies for participating in and executing the program.

SNAP E&T opportunities for CAAs vary from state to state, with some state programs set up to include more partnerships with CBOS such as CAAs than others. State plans from states that see high CAA participation, including Minnesota, Kentucky, and Washington, offer insights into how states and CAAs work together on SNAP E&T. In Minnesota, for example, a CAA is referenced in association with a SNAP E&T-funded program to provide employment and job training services to individuals over 55. In Washington state, the plan indicates that CBOs administer the state’s SNAP program, and participants interested in SNAP E&T programs must contact CBOs in their areas to determine eligibility.

SNAP E&T Grant Recipients are state government agencies responsible for state-level administration of SNAP E&T. A CAA can use the USDA’s Find Your State’s E&T Program Tool to determine the appropriate agency in its state and locate its state’s SNAP E&T plan to learn more SNAP E&T in the communities it serves.

 

Additional Resources

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.