Virginia receives federal grant to help food stamp recipients increase job skills
Ten states, including Virginia, will receive $200 million in federal funds to help food stamp recipients get back to work.
The commonwealth has been awarded $22.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help increase job skills for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. SNAP helps low-income families obtain access to nutritious foods. Last month, 856,500 Virginians received these benefits.
Thirty-five states applied for the grants made available through the 2014 farm bill, but only 10 will receive grants to fund pilot programs for three years. The Virginia Department of Social Services partnered with the Virginia Community College System to apply for the grant.
The commonwealth’s program will allow 3,760 SNAP recipients to earn workforce credentials -such as certifications, apprenticeships, occupational licenses and college certificates – to work in high-demand occupations. It will target SNAP recipients ages 18-49 who don't have a high school diploma or GED, or those who have those credentials but are not college ready.
Virginia’s approach will be based on a program that has been available at three of the state’s community colleges for more than a decade. The grant will allow the program to expand to seven community colleges: Danville, Patrick Henry, Piedmont, Southside Virginia, Tidewater, Thomas Nelson and Virginia Highlands.
Mathematica Policy Research and MDRC, two independent research organizations, will identify the most successful pilot programs, which could be replicated around the country.
Other states receiving the grant are Kentucky, Georgia, California, Delaware, Kansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Vermont and Washington.