Help families stay food secure during COVID-19 and beyond
Below are the TOP 9 ways schools are leading the fight against hunger. Click each number to learn more and access free resources!
Helping families access SNAP is good for student food security and good for your school. The SNAP program is the biggest contributor to a school’s direct certification rate and increasing SNAP participation in your district can be the difference in your ability to participate in the Community Eligibility Program.
Promoting SNAP is simple for schools! We’ve made it as easy as 1-2-3.
- Use the free resources below to tell families about SNAP.
- Invite your staff and families to learn more by visiting www.hungerfreeok.org/groceries, a new webpage to help families apply for grocery assistance.
- Unlock free online training for school staff. Learn more about grocery programs and their benefits for your school, how to talk to families about SNAP, and how to help them apply. Click here to learn more.
Below are some suggestions for how to use these simple materials to make a big impact.
Simply click the picture to download the collateral. In addition, be sure to download our customizable robocall and automated text message scripts and email/letter template. We suggest mailing and robocalling at least once to let families know about this critical benefit.
Generic and Customized Flyers
Flyers are a great way to get the word out to families. Upload them on your school’s web portal for parents, include them in school work packets, or send them home during grab-and-go meal service. The opportunities are endless! Both flyers are in English and Spanish. Just click each image to download!
Postcards are an effective outreach tool. Slip them in grab-and-go meals, share them with community organizations who support your students, or send them out to your families through the mail. If you are interested in mailing information to students, Hunger Free Oklahoma might be able to provide free postcards. Please email us to inquire.
Social Media is a fast and efficient way to reach families and students. Simply copy and paste one of these messages, customize it for your school, and attach one of our custom graphics to reach families instantly. Designs are available in Spanish and English. We suggest scheduling at least one SNAP post per week on Facebook and Twitter for best results.
According to OSDE, most districts in the state are currently utilizing the numerous waivers that USDA and OSDE have implemented that allow school districts operating COVID-19 Seamless Summer Option (SSO), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) increased flexibility. The good news is that these waivers are currently in effect until June 30, meaning districts can continue to operate SSO and SFSP utilizing the current models after the school year officially ends. Schools can continue Seamless Summer without an additional application or submit an application for the Summer Food Service Program by April 30th to keep this critical program going.
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!
Here are three simple strategies to maximize your program this summer:
Join the #Food4Thought campaign and start promoting your sites today!
- Access this promotional toolkit for downloadable and customizable posters, flyers, and social media graphics.
- Start posting on social media today to let people know you will be here all summer.
- Customize and print posters and flyers – post them in your community and pass them out at your current sites.
Request FREE printed promotional materials and get the word out today!
- Fill out this brief order form
- Pass out postcards in grab-and-go meals or leave them at community organizations.
- Put up signs at your sites and in the community to let people know where to go.
- Organize volunteers (maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols) to block walk and door hanger neighborhoods around your sites.
Take your program to the community. Partner with local organizations to serve more meals!
In addition to serving meals at schools, districts currently have the flexibility to operate grab-and-go sites at locations throughout the community like churches, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, parks, libraries, etc. Engaging partners in this important work, who can support the district’s operations by volunteering and/or hosting sites, can increase the sustainability of the program throughout the summer.
Due to COVID-19, Community Eligibility deadlines have been pushed back.
|Data Collected for ISP||April 1||Between April 1 and June 30th, 2020|
|LEA Notification||April 15||June 15, 2020|
|State Agency Notification||April 15||June 15, 2020|
|State Agency Publication||May 1||June 30, 2020|
|Elect CEP for Following School Year||June 30||August 31, 2020|
Source: USDA FNS
More families than ever will need additional assistance to make ends meet. Providing school meals free of charge will be a critical support for students. Because of the CEP deadline extension schools have more opportunity than ever to maximize their direct certification rate.
Here are some tips to make CEP a possibility at your school.
- Between now and June 30th use these strategies to connect as many families as possible to SNAP.
- Pull and submit direct certification data from The Wave between now and June 30, 2020. Also, print an enrollment list for that same timeframe.
- Include local level direct certification matches including foster child information from the local foster agency, homeless, and migrant students.
- Work with local Tribal Governments to include families participating in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
- Children enrolled in a Federally Funded Head Start Program.
HFO team members are available to provide more information and answer questions. please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to a regional specialist. A CEP guide is COMING SOON.
Interested in Becoming a SNAP Outreach Site?
Hunger Free Oklahomaworks with schools across the state to serve as SNAP Outreach Sites. Schools help families connect to SNAP, providing students with the nutrition they need to learn and grow and helping schools increase their direct certification numbers!
HFO is launching free online tutorials for school staff to learn about connecting students to food resources, talking to families about SNAP, and how schools can help families submit an online SNAP application in person or by phone. To learn more or request access to the SNAP in Schools training for your district fill out the interest form linked below.
Numerous waivers provide a variety of strategies for schools to ensure students have access to meals.
During the COVID-19 response, Hunger Free Oklahoma has visited with school districts across the state to learn more about these promising practices. Below we share some ideas to streamline services, increase capacity, and ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, and families.
Use SFSP and SSO waivers to meet student needs.
- Open grab-and-go sites and/or deliver limited days each week and serve meals for multiple days as recommended by OSDE to minimize touch points and increase efficiency. If limiting access to sites is a concern, districts can operate sites on alternating days.
- Designate a grab-and-go site that distributes meals later in the day to enable families that may not be able to access a morning or noon distribution.
- Engage community partners to help distribute meals at grab-and-go locations, host grab-and go sites, or deliver meals. We’ve heard from many individuals, organizations, and businesses across the state who are eager to help.
- Utilize bus routes to operate mobile grab-and-go sites or deliver meals to students that may not be able to access a central location.
- Allow parents to pick up meals without children present in the car. Utilizing the USDA waiver, districts can submit a plan to OSDE to distribute meals without children present.
- Coordinate curriculum/work packet distribution with grab-and-go sites. Schools report an increase in participation when these events align with each other.
Serve a third meal with CACFP.
School districts that were approved sponsors for the CACFP Afterschool Meals program prior to school closures in March have the opportunity to offer a supper or snack in addition to the meals they already provide, ensuring that kids have access to three nutritious meals each school day during the remainder of the school year.
For many families facing the financial strains as a result of COVID-19, receiving this third meal for their children can be an added relief to their budgets. Additionally, serving a CACFP supper each day provides another opportunity for reimbursement for child nutrition departments.
CACFP is included in nationwide waiver that allows non-congregate feeding and meal time flexiblility as well as a waiver that forgoes the requirement to provide education and enrichment activities with meals.
If your district operated CACFP Afterschool Meals prior to schools closing in March, contact OSDE in order to add suppers or snacks to your meal distribution.
Meals to You Program
If your school is unable to continue providing lunch and breakfast to students during this crisis, Meals to You might be a good alternative. With the official announcement from OSDE, many rural school districts in Oklahoma now qualify for an exciting program that can connect students with much needed meals. The Meals to You program can send 10 meals a week to the doorstep of students in your district during the COVID-19 school closures.
Emergency Meals to You works to provide shelf-stable, easily prepared meals to students in rural school districts at no cost to the district. In fact, through this program, school districts are not responsible for sourcing or distributing meals.
To learn more about the program or receive assistance applying please email email@example.com.
While class may have moved off campus for the remainder of the semester, Oklahoma school districts still have the opportunity to collect and process free and reduced-price lunch applications. As a result of the economic fallout of COVID-19, many families’ financial situations have been affected and their children may now be eligible to receive free or reduced priced meals.
Why does this matter if school is not in session?
The State of Oklahoma has elected to participate in the Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. P-EBT provides households an EBT card with the value of the free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days that schools are closed. This financial benefit can help families’ budgets during these uncertain times.
We encourage school districts to conduct outreach to families within your district about the opportunity to complete the free and reduced-price meal application form and potentially qualify to receive P-EBT benefits. This outreach can be conducted through social media, robocalls, texts, or flyers distributed with grab-and-go meals and can provide information about how to access the application. Additionally, school districts can distribute paper applications at grab-and-go meal sites to be collected at a later date.
Hunger Free Oklahoma will keep schools up to date on when P-EBT is avaialble to families and any additional steps families will need to complete to receive the benefits.
Visit the links below to learn more about the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer Program:
Many families will need additional assistance to weather COVID-19 and its after-effects. Hunger Free Oklahoma has produced two resources to help families connect to food assistance. Link these websites on your school website so families in need can access additional resources.
Help families find additional food resources in your community.
www.hungerfreeok.org/covid19 has useful information for families in need including a resource map to help them locate food pantries and other food resources in your community, updates and information on new benefits and assistance programs, and links to other useful websites and resource lists.
Help families quickly and easily find your meal sites.
www.meals4kidsok.org is a partnership between Hunger Free Oklahoma, Code for Tulsa, the Oklahoma State Department of Education, and the OK Childhood Food Security Council. Throughout COVID-19 and the summer, Hunger Free Oklahoma updates the map using data provided by OSDE and SFSP and SSO sponsors. This resource is the most up-to-date meal site locator available in the state.
If you identify any issues or would like to update data for your meal sites please text “DATA” to 918-300-4247.
Many immigrant families are concerned about applying for SNAP and other assistance programs because of the potential impacts on their status or the status of a loved one. Please share the following resources about Public Charge with concerned families. Immigrant families should continue to participate in school meals (breakfast, lunch, seamless summer, Summer Food Service Program, and CACFP) and complete the Free and Reduced Price Meals Application. It will not impact their immigration status.
ALERT: New Public Charge Rule
To learn more about the public programs being considered in the new public charge determination rule and to assist clients and families, you can:
- Let them know that the new rule is not retroactive and a myriad of factors (totality of circumstances) are considered when making a public charge determination.
- Go through the screening tool with your clients: http://bit.ly/publichargescreening
- Encourage them to seek legal counsel for individual circumstances or outstanding concerns.
UPDATE: USCIS encourages all those, including aliens, with symptoms that resemble Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) (fever, cough, shortness of breath) to seek necessary medical treatment or preventive services. Such treatment or preventive services will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis.
SNAP, WIC, and Child Nutrition Program policy is shifting rapidly to meet the needs of Oklahomans during Covid-19. Hunger Free Oklahoma will add resource explaining new policies and waivers and updates to policies and waivers as they happen. Click the links to download our most recent memos on nutrition program changes.