The Workforce Program at Mid-Columbia Council of Governments (MCCOG) plays many roles in the overall effort to prepare adults entering or reentering the workforce. One area in which our staff is involved is with the Oregon Food Stamp Employment Transition Program (OFSET). The Department of Human Services (DHS) renamed the food stamp portion of the program; it is now referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Traditional food stamps have been replaced withan Electronic Benefits Transfer card (EBT) that is issued to clients. This is very similar to a bank debit card and allows clients to use their SNAP benefits discreetly.
The SNAP policy requires clients who are receiving benefits and are able to work to participate in OFSET activities eight weeks each year (unless they are exempt for reasons such as pregnancy, disability, receiving unemployment benefits, etc.).
The intent of OFSET is to provide short-term, focused resources to help individuals improve their employability. DHS-Social Services contracts with MCCOG to administer this program. MCCOG staff work directly with clients to assess their strengths, skills and support needs. Mandatory clients must do a minimum of 12 contacts a month for eight weeks of job search (for a total of 24 job contacts). These contacts are then reported to MCCOG staff on a weekly basis. We are also allotted up to $80 per person to assist with job search expenses during that time. In addition, OFSET clients are invited to participate in MCCOG resources including classes and the computer lab time for job search and personal development.