Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear, Federal Official Release Details of $19.9 million Grant to Help Kentucky SNAP Recipients Achieve Self-sufficiency

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, March 25, 2015  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian
502-564-2611
 


Education, training, employment program hopes to reduce SNAP dependency in southeastern Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear, joined by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Administrator Audrey Rowe, today outlined the details of a $19.9 million grant awarded to fund a pilot project in southeastern Kentucky aimed at helping Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants find jobs and ultimately work toward self-sufficiency.

Kentucky is one of 10 states chosen to share in the $200 million in competitive awards from the USDA to support this broad initiative.

“For more than 50 years, SNAP has helped hundreds of thousands of Kentucky families put food on their kitchen tables when many otherwise would have gone hungry,” said Gov. Beshear. “Through an innovative effort led by the state in collaboration with SOAR, higher education and workforce partners, these grant dollars will support programs to help SNAP recipients in southeastern Kentucky get the education, training and support they need to achieve self-sufficiency.”

“The SNAP Employment and Training program fills a critical gap in workforce training services for low-skilled, vulnerable adults who may not otherwise receive job training,” said Rowe. “This pilot will give USDA and Kentucky the opportunity to strengthen existing SNAP E&T programs and test new strategies to determine the most cost-effective ways to help SNAP recipients gain and retain employment that leads to self-sufficiency.”

The Department of Community Based Services (DCBS), an agency of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), applied for and received the $19.9 million grant for the pilot project called “Paths 2 Promise.” DCBS will oversee the pilot project, which will target resources in the southeastern region of the Commonwealth, specifically Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley counties.

DCBS will partner on the project with the Kentucky Career Center, Kentucky Adult Education, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. and SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region Inc.).

“Kentucky’s Paths 2 Promise will assist many of our students who need additional support with the cost of college and navigating the path to completion,” KCTCS President Jay K. Box said. “We know from our work in Accelerating Opportunity that coaches and mentors make a difference in our students’ success. We’re very appreciative of the grant and the opportunity to collaborate with our state partners on this program.”

The pilot will employ a collective approach to aligning and improving the employment and training programs and other services available to SNAP registrants in the eight-county region, including:

  • Ongoing coordinated case management and supportive services;
  • Educational and career assessments;
  • Education and training opportunities;
  • Work-based learning and employment; and
  • Success coaching.

“Kentucky has seen a tremendous amount of job growth and a significant reduction in the number of unemployed over the last two years, but in some areas of the state individuals lack access to the education and training they need to find steady work,” said Gov. Beshear. “SOAR was established to tackle some of these long-standing issues in southeastern Kentucky, and this grant will help support and expand upon those ongoing efforts.”

“This project truly represents the value of a community-based partnership,” said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Tom Zawacki. “Eastern Kentucky employers are critical partners in this project, and we look forward to offering workplace-based assistance to their current and future SNAP-eligible employees to improve job retention and advancement.”

Authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, these USDA grants will fund employment and training pilot projects focusing on populations identified by the legislation, including individuals with low skills, able-bodied adults without dependents and SNAP recipients working in very low-wage or part-time jobs. The grant Kentucky received will fund the “Paths 2 Promise” project for three years.

“Like many of the programs under the purview of the Cabinet, SNAP is a safety net designed to help families in need feed their children and themselves,” said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “And while there will always be those in temporary need of this assistance, helping people get the education and training they need to find good jobs and steady pay is the best way to reduce dependence upon SNAP.”

USDA has contracted with two respected research organizations, Mathematica Policy Research and MDRC, to conduct rigorous, independent evaluations of the projects to help identify the approaches most effective for the diverse populations of SNAP recipients. Some of the strategies determined to be most effective could be replicated across the nation by the USDA.

DCBS Commissioner Teresa James said the partnership of service providers involved in the pilot project will be committed to participant success.

“We expect this jobs-centered approach to helping SNAP recipients will increase employment readiness and help lift rural Kentucky families out of poverty,” she said. “With approaches that include ongoing case management and coaching services, we can truly help start participants on a path to self-sufficiency.”

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