Employment First

Program Description:

  • Employment First aides food assistance recipients in gaining self-sufficiency through an assigned work program that provides the opportunity for recipients to earn their food benefit each month, and gain/develop skills at real work sites in our community. Participants may also receive food assistance through part-time employment and full-time schooling. Employment First also provides crucial referrals to valuable resources in the community, and provides workshops and one-on-one guidance pertaining to job search skills and strategies to improve participants  job applications, resumes, and interview techniques.


  • A participant in the Employment First Program may receive a sanction, or loss of food assistance, by not completing mandatory requirements of the program: appointments with program, workfare hours, monthly part-time employment hours, monthly schooling hours. A loss of food assistance may occur for the following time frames:
    – First sanction = 1 month without food assistance
    – Second sanction = 3 months without food assistance
    – Third sanction = 6 months without food assistance
  • Once a participant has been notified of a sanction, the sanction can be fixed by completing the comply process before the sanction begins. Please sign up for the comply process with the Reception desk at the Mesa County Workforce Center in person, or by phone at (970)248-0871.

* A sanction cannot be lifted, and food assistance cannot be given once a sanction begins! Please pay careful attention to the sanction begin date on your Notice of Adverse Action letter, and register for comply process before the sanction begins!

Exemptions: Participants may become exempt (excused) from the Employment First program if the
following apply:

*Please submit verification/documentation to the Mesa County Workforce Center


Documentation required for verification

Employed and working 30 or more hours a week, and/or earning $217.50 or more a week Verification of Employment form, and/or a month worth of pay stubs verifying weekly hours/wage.
Caring for child in your household under the age of 6 years old Update food assistance eligibility with the Mesa County Department of Human Services
Completed application process for, and/or receiving SSI Letter from Social Security Administration verifying application process is complete, and/or proof of SSI benefit
Cannot work because of disability Written letter from medical provider documenting your disability and statement that you cannot work because of that disability
Have applied for, and/or receiving Unemployment Insurance Benefits Letter or print out from Unemployment office verifying your application or benefit
Pregnant Letter from your medical provider stating that you are pregnant
Full-time caregiver of an incapacitated person Written note from medical provider that you are the full-time caregiver of the individual