Creating an Adequate SNAP Employment and Training Program is Essential to Reducing Hunger and Building a Strong Workforce in North Carolina.

Each night, nearly 630,000 North Carolina households struggle to place enough food on the table.  At 15.9 percent, the rate of hunger is still well above its pre-recession level of 12.9 percent, making North Carolina the state with the 12th highest rate of hunger. Even worse is the 244,000 North Carolinian households that face extreme hunger issues, which means they are often missing meals. Homes with children and households led by women are at even higher risk of becoming food insecure.

Hunger is the result of many factors, but at its core it is related to the ability of households to make ends meet.  Research has shown that reducing food insecurity leads to increased economic stability.  Food secure homes are more likely to be able to pay for necessities such as rent and medical expenses. As fewer quality jobs are available, more families struggle to afford enough food. Although the unemployment rate has begun to decline, in 77 counties in North Carolina there are more jobless workers than there are job opportunities. In 22 counties, there are more than two workers for every job. The growth of quality jobs has been especially slow for rural communities, where post-recession job growth has been four times slower than their neighboring urban counties.  Since 2009, more than 40 percent of the state’s new jobs were created in Wake and Mecklenburg counties.  Without investing in training the workforce, it is difficult for communities to attract employers and businesses who bring new jobs.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s Employment and Training program, or SNAP E&T, is designed to address the intersections of hunger and joblessness. In 1985, Congress passed the Food Security Act, which created the Employment and Training program with the explicit goal of “[providing] opportunities for food stamp recipients to improve their employment prospects and reduce reliance on food stamps.”  North Carolina operates both the SNAP program that provides food benefits and the Employment & Training Program.