While hunger and soaring prices continue to affect Oklahomans, SNAP offers a multi-generational intervention with a track record for improving food security.
Because schools have the data and relationships to connect families to food resources, they are uniquely positioned to reach and improve food security for many of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable families.
Altus, Ardmore, Perry, and Tishomingo Public Schools, in partnership with No Kid Hungry and Hunger Free Oklahoma, have been gathering promising ideas and strategies for raising awareness, removing barriers, and connecting families to SNAP benefits.
Keep reading for a quick overview of two SNAP in School project strategies that are working in Oklahoma schools along with tools for your school and community to use.
Strategy 1: Focus help where it is most needed.
Schools know families and many of the services for which they qualify. This creates opportunities to cross-promote, refer, and remove barriers to accessing services.
Regularly messaging and offering support to households that are likely eligible for SNAP is a top strategy. Households of specific interest could be those taking part in Head Start/Early Head Start, free school meals, and Medicaid/SoonerCare.
This can look like:
- Using enrollment data and program communication channels to make sure participating households know about SNAP and how to apply for and renew SNAP benefits in about 20 minutes through the toll-free SNAP Application Assistance Hotline: 1 (877) 760-0114.
- Adding the hotline number and English and Spanish call request forms to caregiver and staff resource pages and correspondence.
- Putting a web button linking to this call form on school and program pages.
- Connecting households directly to SNAP application help via UNITE US.
- Placing signage and promotional material in enrollment packets, program communications, and waiting areas.
- Updating school meal application instructions to include the hotline number, call forms (from above), and the bit.ly/Food4MyFamily handout to learn about and connect families to food programs like SNAP.
Strategy 2: Empower staff and partners to share SNAP and refer families to application assistance.
Schools find that the more staff and partners they invite to share SNAP, the more families they can protect from food insecurity. Food pantries, community health workers, community service organizations, and libraries are making great partners.
This can look like:
- Working with community members as promotional partners.
- Encouraging your school and local organizations to learn more and join the Hunger Free Oklahoma Community Partner Network.
- Offering SNAP outreach at local events. Request help here.
- Educating staff and community volunteers to talk about and offer SNAP application help.
- Hunger Free Oklahoma offers free SNAP outreach coaching and support.
- Schools and community partners with a letter of agreement can access free, online training to help others complete a SNAP application.
Stay tuned for more ways schools and community partners are working to end hunger in Oklahoma.
For more information and custom strategies, contact Hunger Free Oklahoma at this link.