Deadline: December 20th, 2022
No Kid Hungry is working to increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) access through school settings and build connections between SNAP and school meals.
Through this survey, we want to understand who is already doing SNAP outreach and enrollment efforts in school settings or those that hope to do this work. We also want to learn how you approach this work and what support and resources would be helpful.
Thank you for taking the time to fill out this survey.
Increasing SNAP access for eligible families helps schools to:
Reach more kids with free school meals while saving administration costs and staff time. SNAP participation also boosts school nutrition department revenue by increasing the number of meals that get full federal reimbursement.
Secure money for education programs and supports like libraries and internet access.
Improve student education outcomes including increasing the chance of high school graduation.
Provide more resources for students, families, and their communities like discounted internet service and identifying areas eligible for free community-wide afterschool and summer meal programs.
Become eligible for and increase revenue potential in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) which allows schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students.
Sharing about SNAP in your school community helps eligible families know about the program while also providing more resources for your school.
Direct certification plays an important role in the connection between SNAP and schools. Students who are in a household receiving SNAP are directly certified for free school meals. This means students automatically qualify for free meals and their families don’t need to submit a school meal application. Direct certification saves time for families and schools while also lowering school administrative costs. Direct certification also improves access to school meals for students from households with low-incomes.
State systems provide the direct certification information to schools so the school nutrition department can link their enrolled students to the participating student and family information provided by the state. It’s important to check direct certification lists regularly to ensure all students are captured. A child only needs to be in a household receiving SNAP at some point in the year to be directly certified for free school meals for the whole school year.
There are other programs that also directly certify children for free or reduced price school meals including Temporary Assistance for Needing Families (TANF), the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and Medicaid (in some states*). The USDA is currently allowing states to participate in a pilot to add Medicaid data to their direct certification systems helping more students to automatically qualify for free school meals.
In school year 2019-2020, more than 1.2 million students were directly certified for free school meals based on Medicaid data in 13 states where this was measured.
More directly certified students means schools will have a higher Identified Student Percentage (ISP), which increases the likelihood of qualifying for and boosts the revenue potential of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP allows all students at the participating school to receive free school meals.
*Current states using Medicaid data to directly certify students: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, New York City, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Schools are generally a trusted space for families to learn new information and connect with resources.
There are many ways schools can increase awareness about SNAP that utilize regular communication channels with families such as messaging caregivers through text or adding information about SNAP to your website. See examples in our SNAP Outreach in Schools toolkit.
Many different school staff and administrators can be messengers for SNAP information - principals, parent coordinators, social workers, nutrition directors and staff, and administrators working in the front office. A coordinated, cross-school outreach effort can lead to strong results. Oftentimes it takes exposure to information multiple times to know about an available resource and take action.
In addition to raising awareness about SNAP, ensuring families are connected to support to enroll in the program is critical. The best outreach efforts also involve providing application assistance. This can look like making a referral to a provider in your area, hosting an enrollment event with trained experts providing assistance on-site, or having a staff member that can walk families through the application.
Schools do not have to go about this work alone. There are many organizations that conduct SNAP outreach and application assistance that are great partners in this work. These organizations are well-versed in SNAP outreach and often have staff who provide expert assistance. Your state SNAP agency can provide you with contact information for organizations that do this work in your area - oftentimes it's your local food bank, community action agency or non-profit service providers.
Learn from those already doing this work who have developed messaging and methods to reach their school communities with SNAP information.
No Kid Hungry's SNAP Outreach in Schools Toolkit features examples of messaging and materials from partners conducting SNAP outreach and enrollment through schools. The toolkit also has customizable scripts, outreach materials, and social media posts in English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Tagalog, and Vietnamese to support you in getting the word out about SNAP in your school community.