Evaluation of SNAP Employment and Training Pilots

Prepared for
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a primary source of nutrition assistance for many low-income people. Beyond providing access to food assistance, SNAP also provides some participants with a critical work support, through SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) programs, to help them during times of unemployment or underemployment. As part of the Agricultural Act of 2014, Congress authorized and funded SNAP E&T pilots to test innovative strategies for increasing employment and earnings among such participants, as well as strategies for reducing dependence on SNAP and other public assistance programs.

In 2015, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, awarded grants to operate pilots in 10 states—California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. These pilots represented and served diverse service areas and targeted populations with innovative SNAP E&T services. Most E&T programs offered individuals a range of activities, such as job search assistance, job skills training, education, and work experience—and supports, such as transportation and child care assistance—to help individuals obtain meaningful employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency.

The majority of individuals the pilots sought to engage were unemployed or underemployed and had significant barriers to employment, such as homelessness, criminal history, or substance use disorders. Funding for the pilots included a rigorous, longitudinal evaluation to assess whether the services offered through the pilots connect SNAP participants with sustainable-wage jobs, thereby increasing their incomes and reducing their need for public assistance benefits. For each pilot, Mathematica presents a detailed description of the pilot’s design and implementation, and examines the services individuals received and impacts on employment and SNAP receipt during a one-year follow-up period. These findings are presented in a set of interim reports expected for public release by late 2019.

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