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NH is offering free job training to people receiving SNAP benefits

A flyer for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services' employment and training program for SNAP recipients.
NH DHHS
A flyer for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services' employment and training program for SNAP recipients.

New Hampshire is offering free job training to people receiving SNAP benefits, part of an effort to expand career opportunities for people in the nutrition-assistance program.

The initiative — launched a year ago — is a collaboration between the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Manchester Community College and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

It allows people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to take tuition-free courses through the community college. The state is also making career counselors available to connect people with opportunities and work on skills like resume writing.

Kim Runion, the bureau chief for employment supports at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the goal is to help people launch careers in health care and other fields, and create a path to upward mobility.

“For me, I did not see myself going to college until my company paid for me to go once to a class,” she said. “And I realized, ‘Wow I can do this.’' So we're hoping that our participants will recognize, ‘I can do this, I have the potential to do this, and there's resources out there to help me.’ ”

The federal government requires every state to offer some kind of employment and training program for recipients of SNAP, which serves low-income households. But states have wide latitude in what exactly that training looks like.

In the past, New Hampshire’s health department has had career counselors in district offices. But this is the first time it’s formally partnered with an educational institution and paid for participants’ courses, according to Kathy Remillard, a spokesperson for the department. It’s also offering participants more coordinated support.

The program is partly funded by the federal government, with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation contributing matching funds.

Runion said other New England states, by operating similar programs, have already received millions of dollars from the federal government toward tuition for low-income residents.

“It's such a win-win because participants receive no-cost credentials, the college sees increased enrollment, the Charitable Foundation furthers its core mission and employers have greater access to additional qualified employees,” she said.

So far, 15 people have completed job training programs — six in health care, six in technology or cybersecurity and three in other fields, according to Runion. Around 45 people are currently working with career counselors.

Runion said she hopes to grow that over time. Many seem to be interested in health care — a field where many employers are desperate for more workers. Upcoming courses, starting in April, will train people for careers as phlebotomists, pharmacy technicians and medical assistants.

The program is open to people who are 18 years or older, and who receive SNAP benefits and do not receive money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Anyone interested in it can visit dhhs.nh.gov/snap-et or email snapet@dhhs.nh.gov.

Paul Cuno-Booth covers health and equity for NHPR. He previously worked as a reporter and editor for The Keene Sentinel, where he wrote about police accountability, local government and a range of other topics. He can be reached at pcuno-booth@nhpr.org.
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