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SNAP-to-work program a no-brainer
A South Dakota candidate for U.S. Senate was one of the first to draw a comparison between food stamp benefits for humans and the National Park Service’s policy on feeding animals.
Dr. Annette Bosworth posted a Facebook meme noting that while the U.S. Department of Agriculture distributed free meals and food stamps to more than 46 million people on an annual basis, another federal agency, the National Park Service, advised visitors “please do not feed the animals” because they “will grow dependent on the handouts, and then they will never learn to take care of themselves.”
Things didn’t turn out well for Dr. Bosworth, who not only didn’t win the Republican nomination in 2014, but was arrested a day after the primary on six counts of perjury and six counts of filing false election documents, found guilty on all charges.
It’s ironic that anyone should be hungry in a state like Nebraska, one of the leading food-producing states, but local food pantries are having trouble keeping up with the demand.
Unlike the USDA and National Park Service, however, two Nebraska agencies are working together to deliver the same message.
Instead of simply struggling to keep up with demand for food benefits, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Department of Labor are cooperating to help families reduce their need for such assistance.
In effect, the families aren’t just given fish; they’re being taught how to catch their own.
In a pilot program launched last year in Grand Island involving 27 families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program assistance, 14 SNAP clients changed jobs, resulting in an average increased annual salary of 6,900. As a result, eight receive fewer SNAP benefits and six receive no more SNAP funds at all.
The program will be launched this month in Hastings, in Columbus in September and Norfolk next May. Hastings clients who are unable to travel to Grand island will be served online.
Some issues such as addiction, mental illness or disability can make it difficult to find and keep a job, but some issues are simpler, such as transportation, wardrobe or child care.
In the new program, DHHS and DOL meet with clients to identify and provide the assistance they need to overcome barriers to their success while enhancing their lives at home.
A plan is developed and the DHHS case manager coaches and supports clients to overcome the barriers that keep them from higher-paying jobs.
The DOL then provides training in preparing SNAP clients to find more-suitable jobs through resume writing, learning how to search for a job, preparing for job interviews and working with employers for on-the-job training.
The governor’s office cited a single mother who went from a waitress job earning $900 a month to a new job earning $2,700 a month with full benefits, pension and potential bonuses. Others include a single mother raising a child who left a waitress job to work in education and increased her income by $425 a month.
A fast-food worker went to a job at a grocery store for an additional $400 a month and employee benefits.
A part-time and self-employed client working full-time in production with income of a $492 a month now earns $2,528 a month and no longer receives SNAP benefits.
Another part-time worker is now a full-time delivery driver earning $15 an hour and no longer gets SNAP. A single parent working the second shift that included weekends now works an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job and spends evenings with her children.
We’re sure the governor’s office painted as positive a picture as possible with the new program, and others will offer criticism.
There seems to be little argument, however, that getting people better jobs so they don’t require assistance is moving things in the right direction.