Groundbreaking Bill Introduced by Sens. Gillibrand and Ricketts to Ensure People Don’t Have to Choose Between Putting Food on the Table & Participating in Paid Career Training

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Center for Employment Opportunities Applauds Introduction of Senate Companion to House Legislation that Will Fix the SNAP Work Penalty and Help Thousands Earn Permanent Employment and Independence

December 19, 2023 - The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), the nation's largest reentry services provider, lauded the recent introduction of the Training & Nutrition Stability Act (S.3190) by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) which fixes a flaw in current law that forces thousands of formerly incarcerated Americans to choose between pursuing a quality job or feeding themselves and their families.

The Catch-22 arises for enrollees of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) who are taking part in a SNAP Employment & Training (E&T) program or other federal workforce training programs. They risk losing their nutrition security because of earning temporary wages in job training or work-based learning programs that count as “income” under the current law. The SNAP E&T program plays a pivotal role in assisting individuals seeking job training to enhance their skills and ensure long-term success in the workforce – and it is vital for many people returning home from incarceration.

"This bipartisan legislation addresses a critical flaw in the SNAP E&T program, allowing those returning home from incarceration to pursue job training without compromising their immediate food security,” said Sam Schaeffer, Chief Executive Officer of CEO. “At CEO, we believe in providing comprehensive support for people as they work towards employment, and this bipartisan approach will help us in our mission of transforming lives through employment."

“Job seekers should not have to make an impossible choice between participating in job training and seeking employment opportunities or potentially losing the food off their tables,” said Senator Gillibrand. “My bipartisan Training and Nutrition Stability Act is a commonsense fix that will provide job seekers with sustained nutritional assistance as they seek to expand their skill sets and secure good-paying jobs so that they no longer need to rely on SNAP. I’m committed to getting this bill passed and making sure working families have the support they need to get back on their feet.”

“The government shouldn’t punish those building their skills to find a better job and get off government assistance,” said Senator Ricketts. “Right now, some SNAP recipients are being forced to choose between feeding their families and investing in their future. This bill will give a hand up towards self-sufficiency for families across the country.”

In the last Farm Bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), Congress enabled state agencies administering SNAP to reimburse E&T partners, like CEO, for paying temporary wages to participants in E&T-authorized subsidized work-based learning (SWBL) programs. However, earning wages under this new provision leads to individuals being disqualified from SNAP, and therefore E&T, because wages newly earned in SWBL count against SNAP income eligibility calculations.

The Senate legislation is a companion bill to House bill (HR.3087), introduced earlier this year and sponsored by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), and Rep. Marcus Molinaro (R-NY). Both bills have strong bipartisan support, demonstrating a shared commitment to addressing the challenges faced by individuals seeking to reenter the workforce.

For more information, please see the following factsheet.


About the Center for Employment Opportunities

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services exclusively to people recently released from incarceration. CEO currently operates in over 30 cities and is dedicated to ensuring that justice-impacted job seekers have opportunities to achieve social and economic mobility. For more information please visit: