USDA awards $3.6 million to set up SNAP job training hub

By Whitney Forman-Cook

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2015 - USDA has awarded a $3.6 million grant to the Seattle Jobs Initiative (SGI) to set up a so-called Center of Excellence designed to develop and disseminate best practices to help state job training centers find work for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP).

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This will “enable us to centralize our efforts to improve our (SNAP) employment and training efforts across the fifty states,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters on a conference call. The center - the first of its kind in the nation - will “help states do a better job” of deploying SNAP employment and training (E&T) resources, as well as provide states with resources and direct technical training to build their E&T programs.

The latest farm bill allocated $200 million to 10 states to develop their SNAP E&T programs. One of those programs was SJI, which Vilsack praised as having been “extraordinarily successful in making that linkage between folks that are interested in working… (and) are receiving SNAP benefits, with jobs that are being created in an improving economy.”

SJI is partnering with Abt Associates, a research and consulting firm, and will receive the $3.6 million over two years once USDA approves their implementation plan for the center, the department said in a release.


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House Agriculture Committee member Suzan DelBene, a Democrat who represents part of the Seattle area, said the grant would help SJI “develop workforce training resources that will not just benefit Washington state, but several other states as well.”

“These funds will help low income Americans become self-sufficient by giving them the specialized training and education needed to increase their earning potential,” DelBene said on the call.

“What's more, programs like these help reduce federal spending, while also reducing unemployment,” she said. “This is a prime example of how investing a little money, in a targeted way, can save the government money in the long run.”

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