Thompson leads hearing on strategies to empower SNAP households

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) recently convened a hearing to explore ways to help beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) become more independent through education and career growth.

Thompson, the chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, opened the hearing by reviewing the subcommittee’s two-year review of SNAP to better understand the program’s beneficiaries and to explore ways that the program can be improved.

“While witnesses in previous hearings have touched on education and employment pathways for SNAP households, today’s discussion is dedicated to examining ways for eligible SNAP households to improve their education and labor force involvement as they aim for independence,” Thompson said.

Taking part in the Career and Technical Education Caucus, Thompson said, has made him aware of the importance of leveraging career and technical education to cultivate a skilled workforce and to support job growth.

“Career pathways are not a new approach to helping individuals move up the economic ladder and out of poverty,” Thompson said. “But there are new avenues to preparing work-capable SNAP recipients for employment and education.”

Existing education and employment services from numerous programs should be restructured to better sync employers’ needs with individuals’ education, training and employment needs, he said.

“This cohesive approach brings together resources, funding, data, policies, partnerships, and perhaps most importantly, shared performance measures that continue to allow for the development, scaling and sustainability of these pathway programs,” Thompson said.

The most effective ways to improve worker employment and earnings over the long term include worker training models that are based on sector-based training and work-based learning, like apprenticeships in high-demand occupations and industries, Harry J. Holzer, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University, said in written testimony at the hearing.

“More SNAP recipients should have access to such models of education and training, which would benefit themselves and employers seeking skilled workers, reduce SNAP expenditures over time, and raise economic productivity,” Holzer said.