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supplemental nutrition assistance program

SNAP Employment and Training (E&T): USDA Study Finds Skills, Credentials Critical to Helping SNAP Participants Find Jobs

The vast majority of jobs in the future will require some level of education beyond high school.  Unfortunately, these jobs are out of reach for the majority of SNAP participants, who often lack the skills they need to compete in today’s job market.  To combat this challenge, USDA offers the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program. SNAP E&T, which is available in all states, is a skills and job training program designed to help SNAP participants prepare for and secure jobs that lead to economic self-sufficiency.  SNAP E&T programs provide SNAP participants the opportunities to gain skills, training and experience, which increase their ability to qualify and get hired for jobs with earnings high enough to transition off of SNAP.  A newly released SNAP E&T Best Practices report provides new insights into how states can strengthen SNAP E&T programs and make them more effective at helping SNAP participants gain the skills employers are seeking and support long-term self-sufficiency for SNAP participants. 

USDA Seeks Grant Applications for Projects to Test Fruit and Vegetable Incentives

 

Like other Americans, folks participating in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. As USDA’s Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, it’s a fact that I recognize and a fact we’re working to address in innovative ways.

In recent weeks, USDA requested a new round of applications for grants provided under the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program and launched a handy FINI grantee locator map. The FINI grant program, if you’re unfamiliar with it, was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and provides grants to test incentive strategies and technologies designed to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables. It’s collaboratively administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

NIFA Programs Key to Reducing U.S. Household Food Insecurity

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) opened its doors on Oct. 1, 2009, created by the 2008 Farm Bill.  NIFA begins its eighth year as USDA’s premier extramural agricultural science agency by examining its role in helping reduce hunger in the United States.

As a nation, we are making great strides in combating food insecurity—the limited access to adequate food due to a lack of money and other resources. A recent household food security report issued by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) shows the lowest figures on record for food insecurity among children.

Funding and leadership from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) support many food and nutrition assistance programs that provide low-income households access to food, a healthful diet and nutrition education. Three such programs are the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI), Community Food Projects (CFP), and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

SNAP Farmers Market Webpage Streamlined, Updated

Expanding access to the healthy foods available at farmers markets and farm stands for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been – and continues to be - a USDA priority. For several years now, we’ve provided funding to equip farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with the electronic technology they need to redeem SNAP benefits. The results speak for themselves. In 2008, there were only 753 SNAP-authorized markets and farmers. Today, that number has grown to more than 6,400 – more than eight times the number of SNAP-authorized farmers markets compared to when the Obama Administration first took office.

NIFA-Funded Obesity Prevention Project Sparks Community-wide Health Changes

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

 

What started as a project to test the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention methods has turned into a community-wide effort and a new culture of health for families in Firebaugh, California.

Food Insecurity in U.S. Households Essentially Unchanged from 2013, but Down from 2011 High

USDA’s recently released annual report on the incidence and severity of food insecurity in American households marks 20 years of Federal statistics measuring U.S. food insecurity. This year’s report, presenting 2014 data, shows that 86.0 percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year, meaning that all household members had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. In 2014, 14.0 percent of U.S. households (17.4 million households) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members because of a lack of financial or other resources. Food insecurity, essentially unchanged from 2013, is down from a high of 14.9 percent measured in 2011.  

Looking back over the last several years, the food insecurity rate, as expected, rose in 2008 with the recession. But the food insecurity rate has not returned to pre-recession levels. Research shows that while modest improvements in food security have accompanied declining unemployment, other changes in the economy, including higher food prices, appear to offset the effect of unemployment declines. These higher food prices, along with an increase in overall inflation, are key factors preventing food insecurity rates from any substantial decline. Another Economic Research Service (ERS) study found that, particularly for households receiving benefits from USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), higher local food prices were related to higher food insecurity.

The Many Reasons USDA is Celebrating 50 Years of SNAP

Half a century ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Food Stamp Act of 1964, making the Food Stamp Program (FSP), which at the time was a series of pilot projects, permanent. Despite the post-World War II economic boom felt by many Americans, some rural and urban areas of the country experienced extreme poverty as well as limited access to nutritious, affordable food. The Food Stamp Act of 1964 was an important component in President Johnson’s effort to eliminate poverty. This year, we not only mark 50 years of SNAP as a nationwide program, but we also recognize the lasting changes it has produced in both the economy and the nutrition habits of Americans. 

In those early days, the FSP reached families living in deprived areas and served a dual purpose.  It strengthened the agricultural economy, while also providing improved levels of nutrition among low-income households. Even though the FSP was renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008, its mission is the same. SNAP continues to serve as the first line of defense against hunger in the United States while supporting the economy.

Be Prepared! Do YOU Know USDA's Role in Helping Families Following Disasters and Emergencies?

Ensuring our Nation’s children and families in need have access to healthy meals is a priority at USDA and that promise is of particular emphasis during times of disaster or emergency.  Throughout National Preparedness Month this September, USDA recognizes the importance of being ready and wants the public to know the resources available to them during a time of great need.

When disasters strike, it’s not only important for you and your family to be prepared, it’s also critical that your community be prepared.  USDA supports local communities by providing access to healthy meals in emergency situations.  Schools, emergency shelters, and summer sites that operate the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food, or Summer Food Service programs may provide access to healthy meals for children in such events.  Child care institutions may also serve as emergency shelters in a disaster situation.

Expanding SNAP Farmers Market Access through Innovative Partnerships

America’s farmers’ markets are a great source of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods, and at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), we’ve made it a priority to expand healthy food access through farmers’ markets to those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It’s a win-win situation because, for farmers markets, the ability to accept SNAP benefits is a great way to build their customer base, which helps generate more sales and nourish the economy in our rural communities.

As Administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, I place a high value on partnerships because, working together, we can achieve more toward shared goals than by working alone. The USDA recently contracted with the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP), in an effort to enhance the participation of farmers and farmers markets in SNAP.  And out of that innovative partnership, I am excited to announce MarketLink, a new way for farmers’ markets and direct-marketing farmers to get authorized as SNAP vendors and get the equipment they need to accept SNAP benefits.

Fresh from the Garden

I get to learn about a lot of great local initiatives when I make visits around the country.  On a recent trip to Dallas, I visited Metrocrest Social Services, a community resource agency in Farmers Branch, Texas, that provides services to families in crisis and helps them make plans for the future. The purpose of the visit was to learn how outreach workers from the North Texas Food Bank come to this office to assist clients submit applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Camilla Zimbal, social services director, gave me a tour of the agency, and showed me some of the other services available to clients. One of the highlights of this one-stop shop is a food pantry at which pantry clients may select groceries once a week. In addition to the canned and boxed food, they can also select fresh-from-the-garden fruit and vegetables.