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Comment Request - SNAP-Ed National Program Evaluation and Reporting System

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In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. This is a new collection to consolidate and improve SNAP-Ed data collecting and reporting, as required in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Abstract

This is a new information collection request. FNS administers the nutrition assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The SNAP Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program (referred to as SNAP-Ed), established by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, as amended (PL 115-334, “The Act”) is the nutrition education and promotion component of SNAP. Under current SNAP regulations (7 CFR 272.2 (d)), state SNAP agencies have the option to provide, as part of their administrative operations, nutrition education for persons who are eligible to receive SNAP benefits and other means-tested federal assistance programs. The goal of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that persons eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the USDA food guidance.

SNAP-Ed's target audience includes low-income individuals eligible to receive benefits under SNAP or other means-tested federal assistance programs, and individuals residing in communities with a significant (50 percent or greater) low-income population. State SNAP agencies have the option of providing SNAP-Ed services to SNAP recipients as part of their SNAP operations. As of 2022, all 53 states and territories implement some form of SNAP-Ed program. Participating states receive federally allocated grants every year that are used to cover states' SNAP-Ed expenses at a rate of 100 percent. Some state SNAP agencies choose to implement their SNAP-Ed programs themselves, while others contract with sub-grantees referred to as implementing agencies (IAs) to carry out SNAP-Ed programming. Implementing agencies are entities that contract with state SNAP agencies to provide SNAP-Ed services and include cooperative extension offices, universities, state departments of health or education, state-level nutrition networks, food banks, and other organizations. SNAP-Ed programming can comprise a wide range of evidence-based strategies, but common approaches include direct classroom or online education, community-level nutrition and health initiatives, and social marketing messaging. The annual SNAP-Ed Plan Guidance, available online (https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/​program-administration/​snap-ed-plan-guidance-and-templates) describes SNAP-Ed programming options in detail.

Current Process

  • States submit their SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education Plans to FNS in electronic format via FNS PartnerWeb by August 15 of each year, as required at 7 CFR 272.2(d)(2). These state plans are prepared according to the SNAP-Ed Plan Guidance, which is updated annually and available online, and must include key features such as: 
    • a needs assessment of the SNAP-Ed-eligible public,
    • a description of the SNAP-Ed programming the state proposes to undertake,
    • a budget, and
    • a record of the states' consultation with partner and stakeholder groups.
  • FNS regional offices review and approve state plans before states can use the year's SNAP-Ed funding. 
  • Additionally, 7 CFR 272.2(d)(2)(xiii) requires state agencies to submit an annual report on SNAP-Ed activities to FNS in two parts:
    • the Education and Administrative Reporting System (EARS) form (FNS-759) is submitted by state agencies each December via the Food Program Reporting System (FPRS), and
    • a SNAP-Ed annual narrative report is submitted to FNS each January via email.
  • In states where SNAP-Ed activities are being conducted by implementing agencies, the IAs individually plan, track, and report their data, and then submit their plan and report materials to the state to be reviewed and combined for the submission of a single, statewide annual report. 

The information collected in the annual report is necessary to: 

  • ensure that state agencies are maximizing the use of resources to identify target audiences;
  • implementing interventions and strategies that meet the assessed nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention needs of the target population;
  • promoting the availability of SNAP-Ed activities in local communities; and
  • ensure integrity of funds, demonstrate program effectiveness, and track SNAP-Ed outcomes and impacts.

The new N-PEARS system outlined in this notice will increase efficiency and reduce burden by: 

  • providing all state and implementing agencies with a single streamlined, online tool for their plans and reports; 
  • simplifying the review and submission process—both for states reviewing implementing agency data and for FNS staff approving state plans; and
  • provide better tools for FNS and the public to visualize and understand SNAP-Ed outcomes through data.

New Process - N-PEARS

As directed by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”, PL 115-334), FNS has worked to improve the SNAP-Ed data reporting process by providing states with a robust electronic, online reporting system. FNS has entered into a cooperative agreement with the Kansas State University Research Foundation to develop and maintain new state plan and annual report modules for their Program Evaluation and Reporting System (PEARS), an existing reporting system that many states have already elected to purchase to track and report SNAP-Ed data for their own needs. 

These new plan and annual report modules, referred to as the National Program Evaluation and Reporting System (N-PEARS), will still be housed inside the platform many states are already familiar with—not on a separate FNS website—and will require no additional paperwork or purchase by states. This system will allow states to submit their SNAP-Ed annual Nutrition Education Plans (SNAP-Ed state plan) and a new, consolidated annual report.

These newly developed annual plan and annual report systems (form FNS-925A, SNAP-Ed Annual Report, and form FNS-925B, SNAP-Ed state plan) will provide FNS with data that are more consistent across state programs and, thus, facilitate data aggregation and evaluation of SNAP-Ed grants. This system will also streamline the annual plan and annual report submission and review process for states and FNS. There will be no change in submission deadlines, and the plan and report modules housed in N-PEARS will ease tracking and submission by walking users through the plan and report-writing process step-by-step, using autofill to avoid re-entering repeated data, and automatically skipping sections not needed for a particular state or IA's plan or report. The order and phrasing of the questions themselves have also been reworked for clarity and ease of use based on feedback from FNS and state staff. Once this collection is approved by OMB, the state plan and annual report review process will also be streamlined for FNS staff, as state plans previously submitted individually and often as long documents will now be housed in a centralized system and viewable in a single, streamlined format.

This new information collection covers the reporting and recordkeeping requirements associated with the SNAP-Ed state plan and the new annual report forms. In addition, through this notice, FNS seeks public comments on methods that can be used to account for implementing agency burden.

Updated: 06/10/2022