One of Connecticut's community colleges has received additional funding to help food stamp recipients get jobs.
The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, gives food stamps to families, including the elderly. The program also provides money for employment training. It's called the SNAP E and T program.
There are ten organizations in Connecticut that offer this type of assistance to food stamp recipients. Asnuntuck Community College is one of the newest. So far, Asnuntuck has received $251,000 through the E and T program.
Eileen Peltier, the school's Dean for Workforce Development and Continuing Education, said the money allows the community college to provide scholarships of up to $8,000 each for certificate programs in the health care field. "Jobs in the certificates that we offer are growing," she said. "There's a demand for them. It's a vibrant field. It's not a dead end. You're going to come out of this with the likelihood of being able to secure employment."
Since January, Peltier said the program has encouraged 100 people to begin classes at Asnuntuck, something they were unable to afford. Now they're working towards certification to get them hired as medical assistants, massage therapists, EMTs, and phlebotomists.
Peltier said the program has a wide reach. "With the economy the way it's been for so long -- although it's picking up now -- a lot of people found themselves using food stamps who never would have dreamed they would be needing food stamps. Times are still tough for a lot of folks. This is a leg up."
The federal money for SNAP's employment and training programs is allocated through the state Department of Social Services. It gives almost $2 million a year to ten providers, including Asnuntuck.
The agency wants to expand the program to all 12 of Connecticut's community colleges.
DSS said that last year, 70 percent of the food stamp recipients reported wages after completing the training programs. For more information about Asnuntuck's program, call (860) 253-3034 or (860) 253-3066.