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USDA to Establish First-Ever SNAP Employment & Training Center of Excellence

Innovative Center Will Provide Tailored Assistance to States Working to Help SNAP Participants Gain Employer-Valued Skills and Find Jobs

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2015 – Today Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the creation of the nation's first Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training (E&T) Center of Excellence. The Center of Excellence will build on the Administration's commitment to job-driven training. It will build on best practices that help SNAP participants gain the skills they need for jobs employers are looking to fill today.

"The labor market is rapidly evolving," Vilsack said. "By 2020, two-thirds of jobs will require some education beyond high school. To compete for these jobs, SNAP participants need skills training and education, not just help with a resume."

The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service selected the Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) to establish and operate the Center of Excellence for the next two years. SJI is partnering with Abt Associates in this effort. SJI has a long-standing history of providing technical assistance in SNAP E&T; the organization was a critical partner in building a leading E&T program, Washington State's Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET).

The Center of Excellence is central to FNS' efforts to leverage SNAP E&T so more states can help SNAP clients work toward economic self-sufficiency. In collaboration with FNS, the Center of Excellence will support, guide, and empower select states to build better, stronger E&T programs. It will serve as a "hub" that provides all states the tools they need to build job-driven programs. In addition, a targeted group of states will have an opportunity to receive enhanced technical assistance.

SNAP E&T is a critical tool in each state's workforce development system that can provide employer-valued skills training to low-income, low-skilled Americans. SNAP E&T can help unemployed workers get back on their feet and can offer workers in low-wage jobs additional skills training to advance in their careers.

"USDA is committed to building job-driven E&T programs that help SNAP participants find and keep gainful employment in order to build a stronger future for their families," Vilsack said.

Even when the economy is improving, many Americans may continue to need additional support putting food on the table for their families as they try to get back on their feet. SNAP helps many hard-working Americans supplement their family's nutrition and to make ends meet.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, these programs include Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information, visit


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