November 1, 2017

Across the U.S., there is growing momentum around the development of skills-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T).  Several factors are driving many States to expand their SNAP E&T programs. These include: increased support from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the program, in the form of SNAP E&T resources and technical assistance; the loss of waivers in several States for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs), meaning that many of these SNAP participants stand to lose their food benefits if they fail to secure employment or enroll in qualifying training activities, including SNAP E&T; and the growing need of SNAP households, 56 percent of which are led by someone with only a high school diploma or less, to gain the skills that quality SNAP E&T programs can provide in order to compete in rapidly changing labor markets.

Many States that wish to act to build skills-based SNAP E&T programs need assistance in taking the first critical steps; other States may need some convincing first, demonstrating reluctance to take action and/or a lack of understanding of the opportunity SNAP E&T presents.  Advocates have an important role to play to help these States move forward with efforts to build skills-based SNAP E&T programs.  Advocates, who may be leaders within State SNAP agencies, policy organizations, philanthropy, community colleges, workforce development agencies and others, can collaborate with State SNAP agencies to provide them the impetus, information and assistance they require to move forward.

To help with this work, Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) has released The SNAP E&T Advocates Guide.  The Guide serves as a playbook for advocates, seeking to provide them with insight and ideas for helping States take steps to develop and expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs. The Guide includes advocacy strategies as well as practical information on common roadblocks that may be preventing States from moving forward with building their SNAP E&T programs.  The Guide also offers key messaging on SNAP E&T that may be effective in getting State SNAP agencies to take action and building champions for SNAP E&T.

As a companion to the Guide, SJI has also released a SNAP E&T Messaging Tool (Pennsylvania Version).  The Tool builds in some of the key messaging on SNAP E&T, and can be used by advocates with a variety of audiences to introduce SNAP E&T to those who are generally new to the program.  The Tool serves to alert audiences to the timely opportunity of SNAP E&T; describes the need for and benefits of the program to both participants and employers; provides basic information on how the program works; and issues a call to action.  The Tool can also be customized by advocates to include information relevant to the States in which they are working.

Several versions of the Tool are available for download, including a customizable version, an example version featuring Pennsylvania data, and a generic version for those who don’t wish to customize with State data. Detailed instructions for customizing the Tool are available in the full report.