Food Stamp Program:

Information on Employment and Training Activities

RCED-99-40: Published: Dec 14, 1998. Publicly Released: Jan 5, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the number of able-bodied adults without dependents who are receiving food stamp benefits, the number who are required to meet the work requirements, and the number who are exempted from the requirements; (2) the number of able-bodied adults without dependents participating in qualifying employment and training or Workfare programs; and (3) the amounts of federal grant funds that states spent through the first three quarters of fiscal year 1998 for employment and training or workfare programs for food stamp recipients.

GAO noted that: (1) in the 42 states providing sufficient data for analysis, a monthly average of about 514,200 able-bodied adults without dependents received food stamp benefits during April, May, and June 1998; (2) about 58 percent of these individuals were required to meet the work requirements, another 40 percent were not required to work because they lived in areas that were considered to have high unemployment or an insufficient number of jobs, and 2 percent had been exempted by the states from the work requirements; (3) in the 24 states providing sufficient data for analysis, a monthly average of 23,600 able-bodied adults without dependents filled state-sponsored employment and training or workfare positions; (4) these participants represented about 17 percent of the able-bodied adults without dependents who were required to work in those states to receive food stamp benefits; (5) these individuals also accounted for nearly half of the able-bodied adults without dependents who were offered employment and training assistance or workfare positions by these states; (6) as of June 30, 1998, all the states had spent only about 28 percent, or $60.2 million, of the $212 million available for state employment and training programs for food stamp recipients; (7) according to preliminary fourth-quarter financial data, 43 states had spent about $72 million, or 41 percent of the grant funds available to them for fiscal year 1998; and (8) according to federal and state officials, the low percentage of spending for food stamp employment and training programs occurred primarily because: (a) fewer able-bodied adults without dependents were required to work than anticipated and fewer than anticipated accepted this assistance; and (b) some states needed more time to refocus their food stamp employment and training programs to target these individuals.

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