The Road to Engagement

A Toolkit for SNAP E&T Programs


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, is the primary source of nutrition assistance for many adults and families with low incomes. It also helps individuals make ends meet in times of unemployment and underemployment. To help adults—and their families—gain sustainable employment and become economically self-sufficient, the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program provides a range of employment services to SNAP participants, such as assistance preparing résumés and getting job leads, education and training, and help obtaining work skills. It also offers forms of support such as transportation and child care assistance so people can be successful participating in E&T services. All state SNAP agencies are required to operate SNAP E&T programs, but states have considerable latitude in their design and implementation.

This toolkit offers state SNAP agencies and their partners a systematic approach—along with accompanying examples and worksheets—for using human-centered design and behavioral science to identify and generate solutions to problems that may be limiting engagement and participation in SNAP E&T programs. It is organized around four areas where SNAP E&T delivery systems often face a lack of engagement. These areas were identified by MDRC and the Seattle Jobs Initiative in their work with states participating in the SNAP to Skills project. They are:

  • First contact (getting individuals interested in E&T during their first contact with the SNAP agency)
  • Service matching (assessing individuals and referring them to appropriate E&T services/providers)
  • Handoffs throughout the process (navigating handoffs from one agency or organization to another)
  • Reverse referrals (helping people who first interact with E&T through a provider to work with the SNAP agency to verify their eligibility for SNAP benefits, E&T, or both)