Oklahoma schools are working to end hunger.
Click buttons to see ways schools are improving local food security.
Connecting families to SNAP is good for students, communities, and schools.
Here's how SNAP helps
- SNAP is proven to improve household food security and nutritional outcomes and reduce health care costs. To learn more click here.
- SNAP helps local economies and supports small businesses.
- SNAP acts as an automatic stabilizer during economic downturns. To learn more click here.
- Student SNAP participation is the biggest contributor to a school’s direct certification rate. This and other measures can help determine local needs and can increase opportunities to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students during the school year.
Apply by phone: Call toll-free 1 (877) 760-0114
In partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Hunger Free Oklahoma offers a toll-free hotline where people can get help applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Calls take about 30 minutes. Assistance is available in English, Spanish, Burmese, and Zomi.
Here’s how it works:
Ways to share this important information with your community:
- Use this sample social media content on your website and social media pages: English graphic and Spanish graphic
- Share SNAP flyers with patrons, partners, staff, and volunteers
- Tell friends, family, and patrons about SNAP by sharing hungerfreeok.org/groceries
For more ideas, Easy Ways to Share SNAP offers suggestions and social media prompts.
To apply online or learn more about SNAP, the hotline, or the application process, visit: hungerfreeok.org/groceries.
Schools are natural places to identify needs and connect families to comprehensive food resources.
Select a topic below to learn more about each resource and ways to share with more families.
P-EBT School Resources
Ways to help families understand PEBT:
- Share school staff presentation (video/PDF) with peers who work with families
- Share the caregiver video (English/Spanish) or PDF presentation (English/Spanish) with students and families
- Share the English caregiver handouts (full-page/half-page). Spanish handouts here: (full-page/half-page).
- Include mentions and links through communication channels like email, website, Facebook
- Share https://hungerfreeok.org/pebt/ and key messaging with caregivers and community members
Video for Schools (English):
PEBT: School Staff from Hunger Free Oklahoma
Video for Caregivers (English):
PEBT: What It Is and How It Works from Hunger Free Oklahoma
Video for Caregivers (Spanish):
PEBT: En Que Consiste y Como Funciona from Hunger Free Oklahoma
Oklahoma Food Resources Menu
Help community members easily connect to food assistance by sharing the Oklahoma Food Resources menu.
Here’s how it works:
Ways to share this important information with your community:
- Place Oklahoma Food Resources posters in high-traffic areas
- Mention on social media
- Download, print, and/or share this letter-sized flyer
- Tell friends, family, and patrons about Oklahoma Food Resources by sharing: bit.ly/FoodResourcesOKSchool
Meals4KidsOK Meal Map Tool
In partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Hunger Free Oklahoma offers a mapping tool to help families locate free summer and afterschool meals for children and teens.
By visiting www.Meals4KidsOK.org, families can quickly and easily find meal site information like the nearest location, serving times, and special instructions. This tool is the most up-to-date child and teen meal site locator in the state.
Here’s how it works:
Ways to share this important information with your community:
- Place Food For Thought OK posters in high-traffic areas
- Share Food For Thought OK bookmarks, postcards, and door hangers
- Use sample social media material and additional resources on your website and social media pages
- Tell friends, families, and patrons that summer meals are open to all children and teens and finding a site is easy with Meals4KidsOK.org
For more ideas, Food For Thought OK Resources offers downloadable PDFs, social media graphics, and more.
Important information to share with immigrant families and community partners:
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) does not collect citizenship status information in determining eligibility for benefits. To learn more about WIC click here.
Food for Thought OK Summer Meal programs are open to all children and teens 18 years and younger regardless of citizenship status for the child or their caregivers. To locate Summer Meal sites click here.
The 2019 Public Charge Rule is no longer in effect as of March 2021. This means that use of programs like SNAP, federal housing assistance, or Medicaid will no longer be negatively factored into public charge assessments. Read more here.
All U.S. born children may qualify for SNAP food benefits, no matter where their parents were born. The Oklahoma SNAP Application Assistance Hotline assists callers in English, Spanish, Burmese, and Zomi. Undocumented immigrant caregivers can apply for SNAP benefits on behalf of their U.S. citizen children. Caregivers will not receive benefits and do not need to provide a social security number if they do not have one. Call 1 (877) 760-0114 or apply online at hungerfreeok.org/groceries/.
Strategies to expand access to school meals
The past year has proven yet again that schools serve as a vital resource for students and families. School nutrition staff have been heroes, going above and beyond to ensure that children and teens have access to meals in and out of school.
Families across the state have experienced increased economic hardship as a result of the pandemic, illustrating the need for consistent access to food in all of Oklahoma’s communities. Hunger Free Oklahoma envisions a time when all children have daily access to three meals and school nutrition programs are an integral way to ensure students are nourished and ready to learn.
Innovative practices to feed more students are emerging from districts across the state. Many of these best practices include using Breakfast After the Bell models.
Oklahoma schools are finding the best fit for their students, whether it’s serving breakfast and lunch in the classroom for in-person students or distributing both meals at once for distance learners. Thanks to waiver flexibilities, serving multiple meals at a time has been a key way to ensure access and availability to school meals that distance learners might have otherwise missed.
For more ideas of how to make Breakfast After the Bell models work for your school, check out the resources below:
SNAP in Schools Training
SNAP benefits families in many ways, including improving food security, but remains underutilized in Oklahoma. Lack of awareness, stigma, and trouble submitting an application can prevent families from applying for SNAP.
To overcome these barriers, Hunger Free Oklahoma has partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to offer free virtual SNAP in Schools trainings. This training equips schools to help students and families submit an online SNAP application.
By connecting families to SNAP, students get the nutrition they need to learn and grow and schools can increase direct certification rates.
In addition to sharing information and connecting families to the toll-free SNAP Application Assistance Hotline, schools and other community partners are getting trained to assist families with SNAP applications.
Trainings are free, virtual, and about two hours in length.
SNAP in Schools Expansion (New Opportunity)
Hunger Free Oklahoma is preparing for an improved SNAP in Schools experience. HFO is identifying partner schools to help build and pilot new training methods and materials. Participating schools will help test a new toolkit and a self-paced, online, interactive curriculum.
Members will share experiences while learning about comprehensive solutions to improve food security. Solutions can include connecting students to food resources, talking to families about SNAP, and building referral chains to help more families submit an online SNAP application.
Flexibility available for offering Summer Meals
Great news! USDA has extended waivers for the Seamless Summer Operation (SSO) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) through June 30, 2022. Currently, approved Summer Meal sites have the following flexibilities:
- Meal Service Times – allows for multiple meals to be served at the same time.
- Non-Congregate – allows meals to be taken and eaten off-site.
- Parent or Guardian Meal Pick-Up – allows meals to be served without their child present.
- Meal Pattern Flexibility (SSO only) – helps schools unable to meet meal pattern requirements due to supply chain challenges.
- Area Eligibility – allows for meal distribution and delivery in areas of need that may not meet the usual 50% free or reduced-price eligibility threshold with existing data.
Along with OSDE, Hunger Free Oklahoma encourages school districts to continue service past the school year to ensure that students have access to meals all summer long. Many families will continue to experience increased food insecurity as a result of the economic fallout of COVID-19. Increasing access to Summer Meals has never been more important!
Simple strategies to increase access to summer meals:
Promote Summer Meal sites through the #Food4ThoughtOK campaign
- Access promotional toolkit for downloadable and customizable posters, flyers, and social media graphics.
- Post highlights from Summer Meal sites on social media to engage families in the community.
- Make sure your site information is current on Meals4KidsOK.org. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details about verifying your Summer Meal site information.
Request FREE printed promotional materials to spread the word about Summer Meals!
- To order printed material, click here.
- Pass out postcards with grab-and-go meals or share them with community organizations.
- Put up signs at sites and throughout the community to let families know where to go.
- Organize volunteers to block walk and distribute door hangers in nearby neighborhoods.
Take your program to the community. Partner with local organizations to serve more meals!
In addition to serving meals at schools, districts can operate sites at locations throughout the community like churches, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, parks, libraries, etc. Engaging partners to support the district’s operations by volunteering and/or hosting sites can increase the sustainability of the program throughout the summer.
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows eligible schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to ALL students.
2022 Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) deadlines:
|Data used to calculate ISP||April 1|
|LEA Notification||April 15|
|State Agency Notification||April 15|
|State Agency Publication||May 1|
|Elect CEP for SY 2022-2023||June 30|
Additional CEP resources:
Many families need additional assistance to make ends meet. Providing school meals free of charge will be a critical support for students for years to come. SNAP connects eligible families to food resources, boosts school direct certification rates, and links more students to free meals at school.
Here are some tips to ensure your school’s direct certification list and Identified Student Percentage (ISP) accurately reflect local need:
- Use these strategies to connect as many families as possible to SNAP.
- Pull and submit direct certification data from The Wave. Also, print an enrollment list for that same timeframe.
- Add local level direct certification matches including:
- Homeless and migrant students,
- Foster child information from the local foster agency, and
- Other students who live with those directly certified through SNAP.
- Work with local tribal governments to include students whose families participate in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
- Include any students enrolled in a federally funded Head Start program.
Hunger Free Oklahoma team members are available to provide more information and answer questions. Please email email@example.com to be connected to a regional specialist.
Many families may not be aware that they are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. School district outreach lets families know they can complete applications at any point during the school year.
Additionally, there are opportunities to increase the return of completed school meal applications. Best practices include:
- Naming forms to be more inclusive
- Shortening the length of the application
- Incentivizing students to return completed form
- Engaging local partners to conduct outreach
- Using social media and text messages to get the word out
School meal applications offer more than just free or reduced-price meals to students.
Even though current waiver flexibilities allow schools to serve all students regardless of free or reduced-price status, keeping this information up-to-date has many benefits.
Benefits to the student and family:
- Students who qualify for free or reduced-price meals are eligible to receive Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). Accurate information is needed to connect families to P-EBT and other resources.
- Submitting school meal applications can help ensure other children in the household are also receiving support and resources.
- Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals can often utilize waived test fees for ACT, SAT, and AP exams.
- School meal applications could signal potential eligibility for SNAP and WIC benefits.
Benefits to the school:
- Collecting school meal applications helps ensure that schools maximize their reimbursement rate.
- School meal applications inform Title I funding for school districts as well as state funding allocations.
Benefits to the community:
- Data can help community organizations qualify to serve meals and provide other food resources.
Child nutrition program flexibilities
Due to lingering effects of the pandemic, temporary policies and waivers have been issued to address challenges and meet the needs of students and their families. Staying up-to-date and connected with a statewide network is a great way to ensure current waivers and flexibilities are being implemented to their full potential. It can also be a way to advocate for policy changes that benefit schools.
In April 2021, the USDA extended waivers to allow school meal programs and childcare institutions the flexibility they need to continue serving healthy meals during the pandemic. Several meal service flexibilities that enable social distancing are now extended through June 30, 2022.
Schools nationwide will be allowed to serve meals through USDA’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which is typically only available during the summer months. Schools that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements for every meal they serve, which will support them in serving the most nutritious meals possible while managing increased costs associated with pandemic-related operational and supply chain challenges. This option also affords schools the financial flexibility to further customize their meal service design to fit their local needs.
Extended waivers include:
- Nationwide waiver to allow the Seamless Summer Option (SSO)
- Nationwide waiver to allow Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) reimbursement rates
- Nationwide waiver to allow non-congregate meal service
- Nationwide waiver of meal times requirements
- Nationwide waiver to allow parent/guardian to pick up meals for children
- Nationwide waiver to allow specific school meal pattern flexibility
Oklahoma Childhood Food Security Coalition
The Oklahoma Childhood Food Security Coalition (CFSC) seeks to improve education and health outcomes for Oklahoma’s children by increasing awareness of and access to nourishing meals outside of school hours. School districts, nonprofit organizations, state agencies, food banks, tribal organizations, youth development organizations, and faith-based partners meet virtually on the 3rd Thursday of each month.
The P-EBT program was extended by Congress in September 2020 for school year 2020-2021 and was extended again by Congress in March 2021 to operate through the remainder of the federal public health emergency. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved Oklahoma to issue school year 2020-2021 P-EBT benefits, summer 2021 P-EBT benefits, and P-EBT for children under age six who were in childcare and participated in SNAP during the school year 2020-2021 benefits. Please keep an eye on www.hungerfreeok.org/pebt for the latest updates.