SNAP in Schools Project Expansion

SNAP in Schools Project Expansion

by Candace Pape-Macedo, Senior Manager of SNAP Programs

 

September 20, 2021

No Kid Hungry and Hunger Free Oklahoma are partnering to expand the Oklahoma SNAP in Schools project.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allows eligible individuals and families to stretch their grocery budgets each month.

Despite its proven ability to improve household food security, SNAP is underutilized in Oklahoma. This is largely attributed to:

  1.  A lack of awareness about the program and potential eligibility by many struggling households
  2. Accessibility barriers related to understanding and navigating the application process
  3. The fear associated with seeking and accepting assistance

Programs that can improve awareness, remove application barriers, and create safe spaces to ask for help are needed to connect students and their caregivers to valuable nutrition assistance.

Schools make great places to share SNAP with families.
Schools already serve as community hubs for resources and information. They are trusted and familiar to many families. When schools help connect families to SNAP it ensures that students get the food they need at home and at school. SNAP in Schools, a Hunger Free Oklahoma pilot program, developed and tested SNAP outreach strategies and materials in school settings. Four public school districts participated: Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Tahlequah, and Porter. The pilot used in-person trainings to create 82 designated sites trained to assist families with SNAP applications. Using feedback from focus groups, English and Spanish outreach materials were created and distributed.

Not only can the SNAP in Schools program help increase students’ food security, it can also contribute to improved outcomes for families, schools, and the wider community:

  • Well-nourished students have lower rates of absenteeism, behavioral issues, and better academic performance which result in positive classroom outcomes.
  • SNAP can offset financial strains for families that are making difficult decisions about covering the costs of other basic needs like housing, transportation, and medical care.
  • Students whose families participate in SNAP are directly certified to receive free school meals and will not accrue school meal debt.
  • Students that are directly certified for free school meals contribute to the school’s identified student percentage (ISP).
  • A school’s ISP is used to determine eligibility for programs like the Community Eligibility Provision which can feed all students for free.
  • In addition, helping schools identify more students that are eligible for free and reduced-price meals may help schools and/or local organizations to meet eligibility thresholds to serve reimbursable afterschool and summer meals to children under 18 years.
  • Offering afterschool and summer meals in at-risk areas helps feed more students outside of school who rely on school meals to meet their basic nutritional needs.
  • Participating in SNAP qualifies students for added benefits like Pandemic-EBT.
  • As more students participate in school meal programs, it increases federal reimbursement revenue for schools that can be utilized to improve meal quality and child nutrition service supports.
  • Communities benefit from the added economic boost that SNAP and Pandemic-EBT utilization infuses into the local economy.

The next phase of the project will offer online training and peer opportunities to adapt and test strategies in five additional school districts. Preference will be given to schools in rural areas and those that serve at-risk populations.

Participating districts will receive outreach material, online training, support, and technical assistance to test messaging and strategies while implementing a local SNAP outreach program.

To express interest and be included in project updates and announcements, click the button below.

If you are a school or community organization that is interested in raising awareness and improving access to food resources like SNAP, please contact HFO for free promotional material and support.

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