Jose Shares Why SNAP Benefits Are Vital For Successful Reentry

Aug 26, 2022   |  By Eric Borsuk

Jose heard about the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) while residing at a halfway house in Philadelphia. With a referral from his unit team, he soon began working with a CEO crew cleaning up the streets of Philly, earning daily pay and receiving coaching to pursue the job of his choice. After 24 years of incarceration, he says the most troubling part of reentry was the fear of recidivism.

“I was more scared about going back to jail than anything else,” Jose says. “So, I wanted to use all the programs necessary to help me through this. CEO helped me push through the difficult times.”

During reentry, Jose accessed all supports that were available to him, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a government program that provides food assistance to those in need. Jose believes that SNAP is a vital component of reentry for returning citizens.

“SNAP was a big tool for me,” he says. “It was not a crutch. I needed it so I wouldn’t have to struggle and burden anyone. It gave me security so at least I had something to eat.”

Through SNAP, Jose was able to use his financial resources on his employment goals and socioeconomic mobility. After receiving his benefits, he immediately began looking for full-time employment. While engaging in daily training at CEO, he was applying for jobs, sometimes three or four times a week.

“I didn’t have to use the money I earned to buy food,” he says. “It allowed me to save to buy clothes for interviews. It also gave me the luxury to purchase a car, which helped with my job search.”

Jose now works for the prison services department of Philadelphia’s public defender’s office. Since his release he’s gotten married and is soon to be a first-time homeowner. Jose is sharing his story to show the importance of food security and services provided through SNAP during the reentry process.

“That was a foundation for me, as well as CEO,” he says. “It wasn’t one or the other. Both of them together were able to build the proper foundation for me to succeed.”

CEO and our participants advocate for the removal of barriers to employment, including ensuring individuals have access to SNAP and SNAP Employment & Training during training.