Editor's note: This story has been updated since original publication to correct the name of a supervisor at Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services to Leah Young and to add the dollar amount of the increased funding Kandiyohi County received for job services to some clients of the program.
WILLMAR — The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps provide much needed food for households that struggle to meet essential needs. Entering into the program can also provide some of its clients with help to find and keep a job, as well as learn how to be successful in the workplace.
Minnesota gave Kandiyohi County an additional $25,000 this year to help fund job services for some clients of the program.
CareerForce in Willmar has a contract with Kandiyohi County to provide SNAP Employment and Training Services for eligible clients.
At the June 1 Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners meeting, the contract between the county and CareerForce in Willmar was amended to reflect the increased funds.
Originally the county received $7,478 for this fiscal year contract, which started in October 2020 and goes through September. The board approved the amended contract unanimously.
"With this money CareerForce will be able to help a lot more people," said Leah Young, a supervisor at Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services. "We got a substantial increase for those services."
While Kandiyohi County administers the SNAP program in the county, CareerForce provides the employment and training services on behalf of the county. The county will transfer the extra funds to CareerForce for the programming.
The money can be used for a variety of items, including transportation costs, job counseling, clothing and other items to help the client be successful.
The federal government requires those eligible for SNAP who are deemed able must work or be enrolled in a employment and training program. Doing so allows those SNAP benefits to continue for more than just three months if they are needed.
Not all those who receive SNAP benefits have to meet those work requirements. Those 65 and older, with disabilities or young dependents are exempt.
"The clients we refer for this money, this contract, are able-bodied adults, without dependents," Young said.
Last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic that forced millions out of work, the numbers of people using programs such as SNAP rose significantly. In March 2020, Kandiyohi County had a SNAP caseload of 1,878 clients. In March 2021, that case load had risen to 2,176.
"It is an increase of almost 300 cases in a given month," Young said.