SNAP Outreach in Schools

Overview of SNAP

SNAP in schoolsThe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a federally funded, USDA sponsored nutrition assistance program that provides families with their basic nutritional needs to get them through temporary hard times. SNAP recipients receive benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card and can only be used to purchase food items from grocery stores, farmers’ markets and other food retailers, making it an effective way for low-income families to put enough food on the table.

Eligibility for SNAP in Minnesota is limited to people with gross incomes up to 165% of the federal poverty guidelines – meaning a family of four can make no more than 3,644 dollars a month (43,728 annually) to receive SNAP benefits. With nearly 20 million children in the US relying on SNAP every year in the United States, SNAP is one of the most powerful tools we have to end childhood hunger. Not only does SNAP lift more than 2 million children out of poverty every year, but children receiving SNAP benefits also are more likely to have lower levels of obesity, risk of anemia, fewer doctor visits/hospitalizations, and are even 18% more likely to graduate from high school than other low-income kids that do not receive SNAP benefits. (Source: No Kid Hungry: SNAP, A Powerful Tool to End Childhood Hunger)

However, there are many reasons that eligible families do not receive benefits. There are language and cultural barriers, low program awareness and stigma, and confusion on the eligibility requirements and application process.

Second Harvest Heartland helps families and individuals in Minnesota break through these barriers to accessing SNAP, by offering:

  • Application screening and assistance, over the phone or in person (with bilingual assistance)
  • Post-application follow-up with counties
  • Information on additional food resources, such as nearby food shelves and dining sites

Learn more about the SNAP Outreach Team at Second Harvest Heartland here.

SNAP in Schools

An added benefit to a household receiving SNAP benefits is that the children are “directly certified”, or automatically eligible, for free school meals without having to fill out the Free/Reduced Price School Meal Application. Meals served to students directly certified for free meals through this method are claimed at the federal “free” rate – the highest reimbursement level allowable for school meals. Thus, maximizing the number of families receiving SNAP in your school is a win-win for both families and the school district.

The Child Hunger Initiative at Second Harvest Heartland seeks to close the gap of families that are eligible for SNAP but not accessing benefits by integrating SNAP Outreach within schools. We partner with school staff to provide the tools and training necessary to identify and respond to food insecurity in schools by establishing a SNAP referral stream with regional Second Harvest Heartland SNAP Outreach Specialist. SNAP Outreach Specialists will treat referred families from your school with dignity and respect, helping them apply for SNAP and connecting to additional food resources.

If you are interested in establishing a SNAP referral partnership with us, please contact the SHH Program Director Theresa McCormick,

Additional SNAP Resources

MN DHS SNAP Information


SNAP in Schools Case Study

NKH Center for Best Practices: SNAP and Kids

MDE: School Nutrition Programs Procedures for Direct Certification of School Meal Benefits

To get the latest updates on SNAP in Schools Best Practices, sign up for the Second Harvest Heartland Child Hunger newsletter.


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