SMA Outreach Strategies

Many schools do a great job getting families to return school meal applications. For those that need a little extra help, the Child Nutrition Outreach Program (CNOP) has several outreach strategies that might boost your returns.

1. School Partners

  • Train parent liaisons and school counselors to help parents fill out school meal applications. Make sure school staff can answer frequently asked questions about the form.
  • Be sure that applications are available at all parent events (open houses, parent conference nights, etc). Send blank applications to places where parents frequently go such as local food pantries, parent information centers, health centers, after school programs, WIC programs, churches, and Head Start centers. Ask organization staff to help parents complete the applications. Notify families that the application is available in 34 different languages.Old, orange, phone

2. ConnectEd / Automated Messages

  • Program the school’s automatic phone system with a message about school meal applications. CNOP has sample scripts available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

3. Targeted Outreach

  • Reach out to those families that are hesitant to apply for school meal benefits or whose income may be difficult to calculate.Earth, Hello in Different Languages
    • Immigrants
      • Some people are afraid to complete a school meal application because of their immigration status. However, a social security number is not required to receive meal benefits, and all information contained in the SMA is kept confidential. CNOP has free downloadable flyers with information relevant to immigrant families in eight different languagues.
        Tools: Immigrant Flyers available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Cape Verdean Creole, Khmer, Russian, and Vietnamese
    • Seasonal employees
      • Families who work seasonally are encouraged to list their projected annual income on their child’s school meal application instead of monthly income which fluctuates throughout the year.

        Tools: Annual Income For Parents Flyer

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4. Incentives

  • Give a prize, such as an extra 10 minutes of recess or a night off from homework, to the first classroom or school to return completed applications for all students. Visa and iTunes gift cards are great prizes for middle and high school students.

5. Promotion

  • CNOP can help you conduct a school meal application outreach campaign designed to target even the most hard to reach families. To view all of our free, downloadable outreach materials go to Get Materials.