by Treba Shyers, Hunger Outreach Specialist, Hunger Free Oklahoma
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides grocery assistance to low-income families. Tulsa Public Schools has partnered with Hunger Free Oklahoma to pilot the SNAP in Schools project, a project that provides training and technical assistance to school staff to assist families with the SNAP application. SNAP in Schools provides the opportunity for families to walk into their home school and apply or re-certify for SNAP benefits.
Ms. Dannie V. Soler, Cooper Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Facilitator, who has been trained to assist families in the SNAP application process, talks about the benefits of the SNAP in Schools pilot project.
“For many parents, it’s like a one-stop-shop center, to know they can apply for SNAP right here in their neighborhood is a time and cost savings for them,” said Ms. Dannie.
Ms. Dannie understands how important SNAP is to a family. She recalls talking to a mother with five school-age children. The mother was desperately trying to make ends meet while working and taking care of her children.
“I simply just handed her a SNAP in School flyer and she asked me how it worked. We sat down together and completed the online application. She received a letter from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) and needed to submit some documents and I was there to help her. A few days later she walked in with the brightest smile and said ‘Me lo dieron’ meaning ‘they gave it to me’. I was really praying for her because she had confided in me and was desperate for help.”
“This is why we have SNAP in Schools. She would have never went to the OKDHS office or called OKDHS herself. I was proud to help her.”
Ms. Dannie does not just hand out flyers and wait for parents to call. She understands how hard it is to ask for help. She calls parents to let them know they can apply or recertify for SNAP right here in their neighborhood schools. Ms. Dannie often drops off flyers and posters at the neighborhood library letting people know they can contact her for help. Anytime teachers or school staff knows a family is struggling, they will let Ms. Dannie know because they know she will help. Ms. Dannie is a true Superhero for many families.
Tahlequah Public Schools, Porter Consolidated Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools have implemented the SNAP in Schools Program.
For more information on the SNAP in Schools pilot project visit hungerfreeok.org/snap/.
Ms. Dannie V. Soler, Cooper Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Facilitator