Ruth Ann Williams, Director of the Conway Adult Education Center, and Carol Zabel, SNAP Employment and Training Coordinator at the center, welcomed last week Kevin Concannon, undersecretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Concannon and Bill Ludwig, Southwest Regional Administrator for USDA/FNS, learned of the unique collaboration between the Center’s adult education programs and that of the Faulkner County SNAP Employment and Training program which is also administered in the adult education facility. The SNAP program is a feature of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the new name for the federal food stamp program under the USDA’s FNS division.
"(Concannon) is interested in the adult education collaborations we furnish for the employment and training of clients, such as in-house access to the GED program, WAGE, Career Scope, English as a Second Language classes and more," Williams said.
Since the SNAP employment and training program are administered in the same building as the adult education classes, Williams said, students can attend and transition from one program to another in a place they’re already familiar with.
Zabel said the organization has a "whole process" for cross-referring clients between the programs.
"It doesn’t matter to them, or to us, that different branches of state and federal agencies oversee these programs. We know that the populations we serve often overlap and we’re happy we have a facility that lets us all work together under one roof to help the citizens of Faulkner County improve their lives and those of their children," she said.
The Conway schools’ Arkansas Better Chance preschool program, which serves low-income families, is also on the same property, housed in the former Sallie Cone elementary school at South Boulevard and Center Street in Conway.
The Conway program is the only employment and training office in Arkansas that the USDA officials were visiting.
"I’m so impressed with the expanse of programs offered here and the technology resources available to SNAP and employment and training clients," Concannon said as he viewed one of the computer labs used for job searches and career preparation.
For information about the SNAP E&T Program, call 501-450-4885.
For information on Conway Adult Education, call 501-450-4810 or visit www.caec.org.