Employment social enterprises in many states are federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training (E&T) 50-50 partners, which directly supports and expands their employment services to low-income clients. SNAP E&T funding can help social enterprises create a more diverse and sustainable funding base, expand capacity, and support clients more effectively through employment services defined by the social enterprise. In this learning guide we will learn about:
- SNAP E&T basics
- Services that can be funded by SNAP E&T
- SNAP E&T eligibility and administration
- Key considerations before pursuing
SNAP Employment & Training
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program of the US Department of Agriculture that provides monthly benefits to help individuals with low incomes purchase the food they need.
The SNAP Employment & Training (E&T) program helps participants gain skills and find work that moves them forward to self-sufficiency. Through SNAP E&T third-party partners, SNAP participants have access to training and support services, like those provided by ESEs, to help them enter or advance in the workforce. These programs also help to reduce barriers to work by providing support services – such as transportation and childcare – as participants prepare for and obtain employment.
Each state is required to operate a SNAP E&T program and receives federal funding annually to operate and administer the program. States have considerable flexibility in how they design their E&T programs and the types of program models they partner with. The SNAP E&T third-party partnership model offers up to a 50% reimbursement to contracted ESEs when delivering eligible E&T services to SNAP participants using non-federal dollars.
Examples of services that can be funded through SNAP E&T include:
SNAP E&T eligible components often align with an ESE’s core program, meaning that SNAP E&T funds support existing activities offered to SNAP recipients without the ESE “adding” anything to their model. SNAP E&T funding can also reimburse social enterprises for client costs for participating in SNAP E&T or for supportive services to remove barriers to employment, such as transportation to and from the site, child care, textbooks, uniforms, TB tests, emergency housing and dental care. The final rule released for the 2018 USDA Farm Bill includes a new provision allowing non federally funded subsidized employment wages to be eligible for SNAP E&T 50% reimbursement. SNAP E&T can also cover administrative costs associated with SNAP E&T.
To be eligible for SNAP E&T, program participants must be enrolled in SNAP and not receive TANF cash benefits. To be eligible for SNAP, clients in most cases must have a household gross income at 130% or below the Federal poverty line. Client resources and assets impact eligibility as well. More detail regarding SNAP eligibility can be found here. As eligibility requirements can vary somewhat state to state, your state SNAP agency will have more information. To find your state SNAP agency, refer to this directory here.
SNAP E&T Funding
Unlike some grant programs, SNAP E&T is a reimbursement program that will reimburse social enterprises only after costs are incurred and invoiced.
Almost all SNAP E&T funding available to social enterprises is in the form of “50% reimbursement funds,” in which social enterprises pay for all costs using qualified agency funds (non-federal funds) and receive a reimbursement for half of their costs. For example, if a social enterprise is already spending $300,000 on allowable activities for SNAP E&T-eligible clients, it may be eligible for a federal reimbursement of $150,000, or 50% of its costs. If it wants to reinvest its reimbursement into new costs such as that of SNAP E&T administration or new services, it may qualify for up to $300,000 in reimbursement rather than $150,000. The larger the qualified agency funding and the more the reimbursement is reinvested into allowable costs, the more federal dollars that can be leveraged as a rule.
Qualified agency funds must be spent on allowable activities (such as the services listed above) to eligible clients from allowable funding sources:
Examples of allowable funding sources include earned revenue, philanthropic funds, and state dollars for worker retraining. Qualified agency funds cannot come from federal programs (with the exception of Community Development Block Grants and Indian Tribal Government funds) and cannot be used as match for other federal grants.
To understand what activities and associated costs will be reimbursed, an ESE first works with their partner SNAP E&T agency to construct a simple budget of expenses associated with E&T components that the ESE will offer that year. That budget will be the total possible amount an ESE could be reimbursed. The actual amount reimbursed depends on submitting proof of expenses for the budgeted items offered to SNAP recipients after those expenses are incurred. Notably, E&T funds are uncapped at the federal level. If a partner serves more SNAP recipients than anticipated, for example, and draws down their full budget prior to the program year ending, it can often access more funds through working with their agency partner which can also request more funds from FNS, if needed. . As with all federal funds, costs must be properly budgeted and documented, and are subject to federal compliance and audit requirements.
SNAP E&T Administration
Each state has its own SNAP E&T program, which is typically overseen by human services agencies at either the county or state level. Decisions about the size and scope of a program, and whether to partner with outside organizations such as social enterprises, are made at these state or local levels.
A SNAP E&T program requires an investment of organizational time in planning, which may be partially funded by SNAP E&T once the program has an approved SNAP E&T contract with the SNAP agency.
If this description of SNAP E&T sounds interesting, please explore the SNAP E&T Feasibility Assessment below or here. If SNAP E&T does not seem like a good fit, you may choose to end the assessment process at any point.
4-Step SNAP E&T Assessment Process
Step 3 – Estimate SNAP E&T funding