The national evaluation of the food stamp employment and training program



This article reports the results of the national evaluation of the Food Stamp Employment and Training (E&T) Program, based on an experimental study involving over 13,000 program participants in 53 separate local food stamp agencies. The story told by these findings begins with the types of individuals who participated in the E&T Program in FY 1988. Nearly 70 percent did not have children (removing this barrier to finding employment), and about half were single, highly mobile adults living alone. Most received no public assistance other than food stamps. For the most part, then, these were individuals who needed to work—food stamp benefits are not intended to meet total subsistence needs. It would, therefore, be expected that most of the E&T participants would be looking for work (whether or not they were successful) in the absence of E&T requirements. Next, it is apparent that large numbers of E&T participants did not engage in employment or training services in FY 1988. As currently structured, beyond imposing the obligation to meet the requirements of E&T, the program failed to provide any actual services to about half of those deemed eligible to participate. For the most part, the services received by E&T participants consisted primarily of referral to individual job search. In the absence of E&T, many of the individuals currently targeted by the program were able to obtain similar referrals on their own. Consequently, it is not surprising, that E&T was found to have no effect on participants' employment and earnings, and only a relatively small effect on average food stamp benefits.