Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Pilots Evaluation

2014-2021
Prepared for
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service

Reducing dependence on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a national policy concern. This evaluation is testing innovative strategies for increasing employment and earnings among SNAP participants and reducing their dependence on SNAP and other public assistance programs. The study was mandated in the 2014 Farm Bill, which authorized grants for up to 10 pilots (demonstration projects). The 10 pilots will offer diverse services and target different groups of SNAP participants in a variety of geographic locations. For some pilots, participation is mandatory, and for others, it is voluntary. The centerpiece of the evaluation is a random assignment impact analysis, which will give policymakers and program operators insight into effective strategies for increasing employment and earnings, decreasing public assistance, and positively influencing other outcomes of interest, including food security, health, and housing. The impact analysis will also help us understand whether any of these outcomes vary for different types of SNAP participants.

In addition, the evaluation includes (1) an implementation analysis that will document the operation of each pilot and provide context for interpreting and understanding observed impact, both within and across pilots, (2) a participation analysis that will examine the characteristics and service paths of pilot participants and control group members, and determine whether the pilots, the services they offer, and/or the requirements they impose affect individuals' decisions about whether to apply for SNAP, and (3) a cost-benefit analysis that will estimate the return on each dollar invested in providing E&T services.

The 10 pilots will begin operations in fall 2015. Findings will be presented in interim and final reports available in 2019 and 2021, respectively. Several organizations are collaborating with Mathematica on this work, including MDRC, Insight Policy Research, Kone Consulting, and Decision Information Resources.