|DATE:||July 11, 2022|
|SUBJECT:||Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - FY 2023 Priority Areas for State Outreach Plans|
|TO:||All SNAP State Agencies|
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is committed to increasing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As the cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition assistance safety net, SNAP is one of the most powerful tools available to ensure low-income people have access to healthy food. Program informational activities, or SNAP outreach activities, are a critical tool to ensure vulnerable populations are aware of the availability, eligibility requirements, application procedures, and benefits of SNAP.
FNS strongly recommends that all states develop a SNAP outreach plan. In addition to increasing enrollment among eligible non-participating households, SNAP outreach can help maintain enrollment for existing SNAP clients through the recertification process, including households who need additional support as state agencies transition from COVID-19 federal public health emergency (PHE) flexibilities to normal SNAP operations.
Outreach is also critical to reaching underserved populations. USDA remains committed to advancing racial equity and reducing barriers to SNAP participation. As described in Executive Order 13985, federal agencies are to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” 1 As part of this approach, FNS continues to urge states to strengthen partnerships in the following FY 2023 SNAP outreach priority areas:
- Supporting participants in the return to normal program operations. SNAP outreach can aid in the transition from COVID-19 federal PHE flexibilities to normal program operations. States can leverage existing partnerships with trusted community organizations to conduct outreach activities, such as application assistance, collecting necessary documentation, and communicating information about post-pandemic operations.
- Veterans. In light of the March 2022 Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit report on veteran food insecurity, 2 FNS strongly encourages veteran outreach. States can partner with local Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities and veteran service organizations to help connect veterans to the program. Furthermore, FNS recommends state SNAP agencies that target veterans share their SNAP outreach plans with local VHA facilities to promote collaboration.
- Students. A 2018 GAO report found that students may be unaware or misinformed about their potential eligibility. 3 To provide students accurate eligibility information and application assistance, states can explore partnerships with state departments of higher education, institutions of higher education, and other community partners.4
- Immigrant communities and mixed status families. Eligible non-citizen families may fear applying for SNAP benefits due to the now-vacated 2019 public charge rule and longstanding confusion surrounding eligibility criteria for citizen children with non-citizen parents. Partnerships with trusted community partners serving immigrant populations can help states explain changes about the public charge rule and current policy for eligible immigrant households, in particular mixed status families. 5
- Older adults. Older adults have historically had a lower SNAP participation rate than the overall population, with only about 42 percent of eligible low-income older adults participating in SNAP compared to 82 percent of all eligible people. 6 SNAP outreach can help mitigate barriers that older adults may face in applying for SNAP, including technology and mobility barriers, stigma, and misperceptions about eligibility. States may consider partnering with local aging services agencies, such as Aging and Disability Resource Centers, area Agencies on Aging, and community-based organizations supporting older adults.
- Racial equity. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate longstanding racial disparities in food insecurity, with black and Latino adults more than twice as likely as white adults to report that their households did not get enough to eat. 7 In alignment with USDA’s priorities to advance racial equity and reduce barriers to SNAP participation, FNS encourages states to collaborate with organizations that are both located within and staffed by those from underserved communities.
FNS encourages states to carefully consider one or more of these priority areas when analyzing state needs and developing FY 2023 outreach plans. Detailed information about outreach plan requirements and allowable activities may be found in the SNAP State Outreach Plan Guidance. FNS reimburses state agencies for up to 50 percent of allowable administrative costs, including outreach activities. States must have an approved outreach plan to ensure that activities are eligible for reimbursement. State agencies should submit outreach plans to their FNS regional office by August 15 to allow sufficient time for review and approval.
FNS is working to identify promising practices from states currently engaged in these activities and facilitate opportunities to share lessons learned.
Thank you for your efforts to improve access to SNAP for all eligible participants. State agencies with questions should contact their respective FNS regional office representatives.
Casey McConnell for Sasha Gersten-Paal
Program Development Division