CalFresh Outreach Program

Q&A for CalFresh Outreach Subcontractors

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A. Outreach: Daily and Events

B. Program Reporting: Prescreen, Contact Sheet, & Master Log

C. Promotion, Marketing, and Social Media 

  • C1 Where can we find the CalFresh Food logo, tagline, etc.?

    Visit the CDSS Brochures and Materials page for CalFresh Food Logos as well as other CalFresh Food resources. The CalFresh Style Guide contains information about the CalFresh Food name and logo. 

    The CalFresh Food tagline should be used on any materials that are created with CalFresh Food dollars. This includes, flyers, PowerPoint presentations, etc. The tagline is: 

    "Funded by USDA SNAP, known in California as CalFresh Food, an equal opportunity provider and employer, and the California Department of Social Services." 

  • C2 Can the promotion of social media posts be paid by CalFresh Outreach funding?

    CalFresh funding can be used for the promotion of social media posts if they are related to CalFresh application assistance. This is an allowable cost and CalFresh Outreach funding can be used to pay for this expense.  

    In the July 2017 Guidance Allowability Table it states “Informational websites and other social media sites that provide factual information that is not intended to persuade and individual to apply for SNAP” is an allowable cost. 

D. Outreach with the County  

E. Confidentiality and Civil Rights

  • E1 What is the Confidentiality training? Who is required to complete it?

    The confidentiality training is a requirement of CDSS and is required for all staff and volunteers working directly with client's personal information through the CalFresh Outreach contract. It is a document that must be reviewed and signed. All staff currently doing application assistance, who may do application assistance, or are handling confidential data should complete Confidentiality training during onboarding and then annually. This takes about 15 minutes and can be done individually or as a group. There is no cost for either of these trainings. 

    For additional resources and information about these trainings, please visit the Confidentiality & Civil Rights Training page on our website.

  • E2 What is Civil Rights training? Who is required to complete it?

    The civil rights training is a requirement of California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and is required for all staff and volunteers working with the CalFresh Outreach contract. It is a 20 minute video that can be viewed individually or as a group. All staff working on the project should complete Civil Rights training during onboarding, and then annually. It must be viewed annually by the end of the 1st Quarter.

    For additional resources and information about these trainings, please visit the Confidentiality & Civil Rights Training page on our website.

  • E3 If volunteers are collecting confidential information, is there a training for them?

    We don’t recommend having volunteers conducting the prescreening or taking the actual applications. Instead, we suggest having them help with other aspects of the event such as promotion, set up and break down, donating water or food, etc.

F. Contract and Budget Guidelines 

    • F1 Do funds roll over from year to year and what are the yearly contract dates?

      This contract requires annual close-outs and unspent funds cannot roll over year to year. The current CalFresh contract runs on the federal fiscal year which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 each year.  

      The three federal fiscal years in the current CFO contract are: 

      Year 1: 10/1/2018-9/30/2019 

      Year 2: 10/1/2019-9/30/2020 

      Year 3: 10/1/2020-9/30/2021  

    • F2 How does payment work for the CalFresh contract? 

      This is a cost reimbursed contract, therefore, the campus or organization will cover the day-to-day Federal Share expenses and then invoice us at the end of each quarter (every 3 months) to request reimbursement. State Share is what your campus or organization already pays for. Iinvoices are due on the 30th of the month following quarter end. Once we receive a completed and signed invoice, we typically process the invoice within 2-4 weeks and payment is issued thereafter. 

    • F3 Are there penalties for underreporting/underutilizing the budget? 

      There is no penalty language in your subcontract; however, at a minimum, it is our hope to report 85% or more of the total budgeted State Share each Federal Fiscal Year. A large portion of subcontractor’s State Share supports program and fiscal oversight, training and on-going technical assistance (T&TA) from the prime team. In other words, the budgeted State Share in your subcontract is used to enable CHC to provide services to support you.  

      Overall, we aim for all contractors to have a realistic budget that is not too restrictive or overinflated. If an entity projects or consistently reports spending less than 67% of their total annual budget, a budget reduction may be requested. If you feel your budget is too large or too small for your organization, please reach out to your assigned Fiscal Analyst so we may explore opportunities to increase or decrease the total annual budget as needed. 

      As a reminder, Federal Share reimbursement dollars can be up to 50% of the State Share reported. If less State Share is reported, you won’t be able to receive your full budgeted amount in Federal Share either. 

    • F4 Do you see these contracts continuing past 2021? 

      We’ve held this contract for the past 10 years and we anticipate if there is funding available that the contract would continue. There is no guarantee though. 

    • F5 How can I be added to the email distribution list? 

      We use the Contractor Information Form (CIF) to generate our email distribution list.  

      Please out to your assigned CHC Program Manager or Fiscal Analyst if you need to be added to the CIF. We will then send the CIF to your CFO representative to be updated. Please make sure to indicate using the check boxes provided which types of distributions the individual(s) should be receiving (i.e. Contract, Program, and/or Fiscal). 

    • F6 Should CalFresh accounts be a federal budget or state budget account number? 

      If your organization has different account numbers for federal dollars and state dollars then use a federal budget account number. (The Federal Share portion that is being reimbursed is Federal funding. It is passthrough funding that comes from USDA to CDSS to your organization.) 

    • F7 Can I apply indirect to both Federal Share and State Share budgeted direct costs? 

      Yes, indirect is the Facilities and Administrative costs related to a site supporting the contract. When developing your CFO budget, costs are identified to be reimbursed by this contract (i.e. Federal Share) and other costs are identified which are already paid by your organization, by SB-85 funding or other non-federal funding (i.e. State Share). These budgets together represent the full cost of doing the CalFresh Outreach program. The budget is set up so that you’re not applying indirect to the same expenses twice; you’re applying it to those two separate budgets/funding to represent the full cost of doing business, regardless of whether its paid by this grant or another non-federal source. Therefore, State Share would typically have associated indirect just as the Federal Share expenses would.

    • F8 Can a campus subcontractor provide outreach off-campus and/or to non-students?

      The answer depends on the indirect rate (or F&A rate) that was agreed upon and used when developing your CalFresh Outreach (CFO) budget.  

      If the on-campus federally negotiated indirect rate was used, the campus was required to complete and sign a letter “to confirm that no less than 75% of all CFO activities/deliverables will occur on the campus” with the funding application package. This sets limits for the location of services provided, not the population being served. Meaning that you can help anyone, students and non-students, so long as you follow the location guidelines your campus agreed to based on the indirect rate used. Note that of you are providing services at a satellite campus site, this would still be considered working on the campus. 

      If your campus used the de minimis indirect rate (10%), this letter was not required and there are no restrictions on the location of services or population served. 

      If you are unsure if your campus used the on-campus rate and/or if a letter was submitted with the funding application package, please contact your Fiscal Analyst for verification.

    • F9 What is State Share and how does it apply to this contract? 

      This CalFresh contract is made up of two separate budgets that combine to make up to contract’s total budget. The state share budget is the portion of the CalFresh budget that is the monetary representation of CalFresh allowable activities that goes on at your site that is supported by other, non-federal, funds (similar to match or cost share for other grants and contracts). This could be personnel time and/or other expenses that support or benefit your CalFresh program, such as staff who might promote CalFresh to students as a part of their existing position paid for by your campus or entity.

      The Federal Share budget that is the portion of the budget that is reimbursed, or paid, to the subcontractors based on the actual expenses reported. The federal share portion makes up 1/3 of the total CFO budget, and the state share portion takes up 2/3rd of the total CFO budget. This also means that there is twice as much state share as there is federal share in your budget or that federal share is 50% of state share. These budgets are part of the whole budget but remain unique and separate. And, while you could split an expense between federal share and state share, the same expense cannot be reported as both State Share and Federal Share, that would be considered duplication.

      For more information regarding the overall funding you can review the USDA guidance(opens in new window).

      There are specific examples of reporting various expenses as state share in other questions on this Subcontractor Q&A(opens in new window) page. The easiest way to find answers in our Q&A is to click “expand all” then press control “F” to open the search function and search all page contents. 


G. Fiscal Reporting & Budget Adjustments

  • G1 When are the fiscal reporting deadlines and what back-up is required? 

    All fiscal reports and Ttime & Effort forms (TEFs) are due 30-days after the end of each quarter. 

    Fiscal reports include the State Share entry page, State Share Documentation Report (SSDR), Federal Share entry page, and the Invoice. In addition, TEFs are due with each quarterly invoice as back-up documentation for all personnel time, both Federal Share and State Share. 

    All other back-up documentation for operating expenses, travel, promotional supplies, etc. are to be retained on file in case of a fiscal desk review or audit. If/when a fiscal desk review or audit occurs, we will be reviewing expenses for an entire quarter and you’ll be notified at least 3 weeks prior to the review to gather and submit all supporting documentation. 

  • G2 Can we use our organization's time reporting forms instead of the templates?

    Using your own organization’s time reporting forms instead of the Time & Effort Form templates provided may be allowable but must be pre-approved. If you are interested in using a different template, see the guidelines below and send an example time sheet to your Fiscal Analyst for review.  

    USDA and CDSS have specific requirements for Time & Effort reporting. If the following requirements are met, we may be able to approve an alternative time reporting template that your organization uses. The form must include: 1) Time reported in hours (not percentage) of time spent conducting approved activities related to the CalFresh Outreach project; 2) Space to enter hours spent on outreach, date, and employee and supervisor signatures; 3) Clearly indicate the name of the project (CalFresh Outreach) along with the project/account/funding number or code; and 4) If prorated costs are being reported, the form must also have the percentage of work applied towards the project (CalFresh Outreach) clearly indicated. All the above requirements must be clearly shown on a single form. 

  • G3 Can we move funds from salaries to benefits without a formal budget adjustment?

    No. Since salaries and benefits are two separate categories, a Budget Adjustment Request (BAR) would be required. BARs are required to move money between categories, but not line items within categories. 

  • G4 What do I need in order to complete a Budget Adjustment Request?

    All budget revisions are completed in the budget workbook using the formatting guidelines as described in the Budget Adjustment Request (BAR) instructions form. Please refer to the BAR instructions (DOC) (DOC) and make revisions/edits in your budget workbook for the year(s) in which you are requesting to make the changes. All BARs should be submitted to your assigned Fiscal Analyst for review and approval prior to use. 

  • G5 What is a supplemental fiscal report and when is it due?

    The purpose of a supplemental fiscal report is to allow you to submit fiscal reports late, up to one quarter past due, or to make a correction/addition to a previously submitted fiscal report. Any incomplete or unsigned fiscal report submitted after the due date provided in your subcontract, may be processed as a supplemental. All supplementals will be reviewed, but not processed until the month in which the supplemental is due. For example, if you submit a Q3 supplemental on Sept 15th, we will review and approve, but not process for payment until the month of October. Exception: We cannot submit supplementals for Q4 as this is the final quarter in the Federal Fiscal Year. For more clarification, please reach out to your Fiscal Analyst any time. 

  • G6 How/when are updates on position titles and descriptions needed in our budget?

    Staffing changes do not need to be reported and you are not required to complete a budget adjustment request (BAR) when staffing is the only thing that is changing. Anything that necessitates moving funds in between categories requires a BAR; if the change is only to titles or descriptions, a BAR is not required. Staff names, position titles, and addition of new positions can be added upon request or when a BAR is being completed to move funds between budget categories. 

  • G7 Do we report expenses when they occur or when incurred on the accounting sytem?

    All expenditures need to be reported within the invoicing period in which they occurred. Time worked in one month/quarter cannot be reported to a subsequent quarter, even if that is when the expense posted to your accounting system. For example, hours worked in Q2 (January-March) cannot be invoiced in Q3 (April-June). If expenses were not originally captured in the correct quarter, you may report them in a supplemental fiscal report. Refer to question G5 for more information about supplemental fiscal reporting. 

H. General Funding Allowability 

  • H1 What sources of campus funding be captured as State Share? 

    Any SNAP/CalFresh allowable activities conducted with funding that is non-federal in origination may be used as state share as long as your campus is using those funds to expense CalFresh Outreach allowable costs and activities. Be sure to maintain documentation to verify that your sources of State Share are non-federal. Additionally, there are restrictions around using private cash donations or in-kind donation from a private entity. See pages 23-24 of the USDA Guidance for details. 

    Examples of allowable campus funding be included CCC and CSU Hunger Free Campus Initiative funding from BS-85 and student health fees. 

  • H2 Is the cost for space on campus an allowable expense?

    Examples of campus space costs associated with CalFresh Outreach could include the location for drop-in assistance and booths for outreach events. 

    Typically, most campus owned space (Associated Students, health center, food pantry, campus farmers’ market, library, etc.) will be included in the facilities portion of the F& A or indirect rate. Only if that space is NOT included in the calculation of the on-campus indirect rate can it be direct charged and therefore listed in the budget detail as either State Share (non-reimbursable) or Federal Share (reimbursable).

  • H3 Is there a list of allowable expenses for direct costs aside from personnel costs?

    Page 16 of the USDA guidance lists out allowable activities for CalFresh Outreach. Most materials needed to conduct these activities would be allowable expenses. Note that this is not a comprehensive list. If you are unsure about a specific item or activity, please reach out to your Fiscal Analyst and we’d be happy to discuss it further.  

    The following are NOT allowable: food, SWAG or giveaways, incentives to fill out an application (must be available for ALL, cannot persuade an individual to apply), radio, TV, and billboard advertisements that promote CF benefits and enrollment   

    Some common allowable items we often see are: operating expenses such as phone, Internet, general office supplies, etc., computers/laptops/tablets, printer/copier/scanner/fax, travel to meetings, events, or satellite sites for CFO activities, printing such as prescreen forms, flyers, brochures, contact sheets, etc., and outreach materials such as signage, tables, chairs, tablecloths, canopies, etc.  

  • H4 Are “unallowable CFO activities” not allowed at all, or just not reimbursable?

    Activities considered unallowable are not allowed at all. If an expense is uallowable and not reimbursable through Federal Share, it cannot be claimed as State Share. For a list of “unallowable CFO activities” refer to page 16 of the USDA guidance(opens in new window). 

  • H5 Can meals for trainings be paid for on the CFO contract? 

    When conducting a CalFresh Outreach training with staff or hosting a training with CHC or other partners, meal purchases are allowable as long as they are for CFO related trainings. CDSS will allow food purchases to be made with Federal Share, or captured as state share in this instance. As a general guide, please use your entity’s approved per diem rates or CalHR meal reimbursement rates as a guide for reasonable cost per meal per individual.

  • H6 Can I purchase pens, stickers, notepads, t-shirts, etc. using this funding? 

    These items are allowable depending on their use. Because S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get) is banned in California, items that fall under this definition (i.e. items that are used as giveaways to students/the public) are unallowable.  

    If outreach or application assistance information is being printed on the item, CalFresh Outreach (CFO) funding can be used to pay for the printing of the item, but not the item itself. An example of this would be printing CalFresh Outreach application assistance information on bags that are being given out at a food pantry. In this example, CFO funding can pay to print the outreach information on the bags, but not the bags themselves.  

    If an item is to be used by staff while doing CFO allowable activities, then the items are allowable. An example of this would be t-shirts for staff that identify them as outreach application assistors. In this example, the t-shirts and the printing of the t-shirts would be allowable costs.  

  • H7 What, if any, expenses require pre-approval prior to purchasing?

    Yes. CDSS and USDA provide guidance that specifies those purchases which require pre-approval. You can review the CDSS Travel Guidance and Equipment Guidance as well as the USDA SNAP Outreach Guidance (PDF) hereIn order for any expense to be approved it must be an allowable expense as defined by the USDA guidance.  

    Rrequirees pre-approval:  

    1) Eequipment that was not approved in the original contract 

    2) Theft sensitive items (computers, cameras, etc.) that were not approved in the original contract 

    3) For travel, CDSS requires pre-approval at least 30-days before the travel occurs when it was not included in the original contract.  

I. Personnel Allowability & Guidelines 

  • I1 Can we report hours from faculty and staff on the Basic Needs Work Group?

    Capturing Basic Needs Workgroup time and effort for CFO is a great idea.  

    For example, assume at minimum we have 15 committee folks who show up once/month for an hour. Just capturing that would be helpful. However, each of those folks puts in some number of hours during their regular work that could also be captured for this purpose.  

    You would need to collect time and effort forms from each person contributing to CFO. One way to do it would be to bring the time and effort forms to each meeting and have people sign off on them at the meetings to eliminate having to track people down later. Also, if they will need any cost share commitment forms, you will want to coordinate the completion of that form at the same time if possible. You may want to consider calculating the projected amount of State Share that would be contributed form these meetings to determine if this is in worthwhile. 

  • I2 Can we include the VP of Student Affairs time as State Share? 

    If the VP of Student Affairs is contributing to CFO allowable activities (see USDA Guidance beginning on page 16) such as promoting CFO application assistance, encouraging various offices or programs to cross promote and refer students, etc. AND the position is not already included the calculation of your on-campus indirect (F&A) rate, then yes, their time could be captured as State Share.  

    Often a campus will include various administrative staff in the indirect pool but identifying which administrative staff can be tricky. We recommend working with your foundation or sponsored projects office to determine whether specific individuals and/or positions can be included in your personnel section of the CFO budget.

  • I3 Is stocking and distributing food in a campus pantry an allowable expense?

    No, this is not an allowable CFO activity (see USDA Guidance(opens in new window)(opens in new window) beginning on page 16); however, if the individual is promoting CalFresh and/or pre-screening for eligibility while working in the pantry, that portion of their time can be captured as State Share or Federal Share.       

  • I4 Can time spent preparing CalFresh fiscal reports be included in this budget?

    If the individual is contributing to CFO allowable activities (see USDA Guidance beginning on page 16) such as reporting, invoicing, etc. AND the position is not already included the calculation of your on-campus indirect (F&A) rate, then yes their time could be captured as State Share or requested as Federal Share.  

    We recommend working with your foundation or sponsored projects office to determine whether or not specific individuals and/or positions can be included in your personnel section of the CFO budget and if reported, what back-up documentation will be kept on file to verify. 

  • I5 Are the position descriptions in the budget a full list of a person’s responsibilities?

    It depends on the individual and if they have a position of which CalFresh is one aspect of their responsibilities. The position description included in the budget should describe only the portion of time on the CFO budget and the roles and responsibilities related to allowable CalFresh Outreach activities (i.e. Leads all application and verification assistance/SARS/ARS via CalFresh events and drop in assistance days, distributes materials and tabling, and  assists with tracking and reporting).  

    See example budget for more example position descriptions. In addition, there are additional suggestions and description examples for position descriptions. 

  • I6 Can CalWORKs or Work Study individuals’ reported time be used as State Share?

    Unfortunately, no. Neither CalWORKs staff nor Work Study students can be captured as State Share.

    Work Study is typically paid for with a blend of federal and non-federal funding making it ineligible to be used as match.

    CalWORKS positions are partially funded with state dollars, those state dollars are used as matching funds on the federally funded portion of these CalWORKs positions. Since this funding is already being used as match for CalWORKs federal funding, it cannot also be counted as State Share for your CalFresh Outreach budget. However, there may be an exception if documentation is available confirming this is not the case for your organization/entity. Please reach out to your Fiscal Analyst for support. Additionally, we still encourage you to partner with these individuals when implementing project activities—their time just cannot be captured as State Share.

    NOTE: This applies to the portion of the position that is CalWORKs funded.

  • I7 How do I determine individuals’ FTE to include in the CalFresh budget template? 

    When calculating the FTE for each individual listed in the budget, you calculate the percent (i.e. portion of a 1.0 full time equivalent, or FTE) by totaling the anticipated hours over the course of the year the person will be working on CFO and divide that by 2080 hours (equivalent to the hours in a year for a 1.0 FTE). Sometimes we find it easier to estimate the number of hours per week and then multiple that by the number of weeks to estimate the total hours. This will give you the annual FTE to use in the budget template. 

    For example, if a person is contributing 2 hours/week over the course of the full year (52 weeks), you could do the following: (2 x 52)/2080 = 0.05 FTE 

  • I8 What are allowable CalFresh activities that can be counted toward personnel time?

    Any time that you are working on allowable CFO activities (see page 16 of the USDA guidance(opens in new window) can be counted towards personnel time. This includes: wWebinars, phone callsTraining and Technical Assistance (T&TA), iinvoicing, grant management activities, ssupervision of staff/interns, ppresentations on CFO (incl. at meetings), ooutreach planning, ooutreach activities, ttalking, collaborating, or any task related to CFO allowable activities can be counted.  

  • I9 What are the benefits and guidelines for reporting unpaid intern time?

    Yes, uunpaid staff time spent on CalFresh Outreach activities can contribute to the State Share portion of your budget as long as the hours reported must be part of an ongoing, structured internship/volunteer position (e.g. a student committing to a set number of hours over the course of the semester or quarter), not one-time only help. By capturing this additional State Share, you are able claim and be reimbursed for the additional Federal Share up to 50% of the reported State Share. 

    The USDA SNAP Outreach Guidance (page 30) (PDF), specifies volunteer services (including unpaid interns) for public organizations are allowable as state share as long as they are performing CFO allowable activities and not being reported as match for any other funding.  

    CDSS requests that, unless otherwise approved with an appropriate justification, the minimum wage of the county in which your organization is located should be used to calculate the value of the volunteer/intern time. No fringe benefits should be associated with unpaid interns, but the value of their time can be included in the indirect/F&A base, as long as this is allowable per your organization. 

    Volunteer/intern hours must be reported in your fiscal reporting workbook on the State Share entry page along with a completed Time & Effort form. Additionally, an intern/volunteer position description or duty statement that clearly defines what CalFresh Outreach activities the individual(s) will perform is required to be submitted once per year and kept on file. 

J. Travel Allowability & Guidelines

  • J1 Is conference or meeting travel within California an allowable expense? 

    For conference or meeting travel (PDF) within California where CalFresh content is less than 100% of the schedule or agenda, pre-approval by the California Department of Social Services is required and the travel costs must be prorated by both the percent FTE of the attendee(s) and the percentage of CalFresh Program Access content attributable to the conference or meeting.  

    If you would like to include travel beyond the CalFresh forum listed in the example budget, please let us know and we can work one-on-one with you to determine if it is an allowable expense. 

  • J2 Is out-of-state travel to SNAP or CalFresh conferences an allowable expense? 

    Out of state travel (PDF) to simply attend a conference or event is not allowed. Any out of state travel must be pre-approved by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and must meet one of the following conditions: required by USDA, a staff person is receiving an award or recognition for CalFresh Outreach efforts, a staff person is a guest, keynote speaker, or presenter on the topic of CalFresh Outreach.  

    If any of the above criteria are met, the pro-ration guidelines must be used regarding the FTE and the percent of the agenda that covers CalFresh. All travel must follow Cal HR guidelines. If you would like to include any conference travel beyond the CalFresh forum listed in the example budget, please let your Fiscal Analyst know and so they can work one-on-one with you to determine if it is an allowable expense. 

  • J3 What, if any, parking costs are allowable costs on this contract?

    All parking costs for CalFresh related activities are considered allowable expenses on CalFresh Outreach contract. This may include parking passes for county workers or other off-campus partners, one-time parking fees for visiting partners, or parking fees for CFO staff. It is up to the site and their policies which parking costs are expensed to the CFO project as opposed to expenses staff or visitors are supposed to personally cover.

    Parking costs are budgeted and reported under the Travel category. These expenses may be reported and reimbursed as federal share or reported as state share. 

K. Other Questions   

  • K1 What is Disaster CalFresh? What are our responsibilities for Disaster CalFresh? 

    When there is a disaster (e.g., huge wildfire), the Governor of California submits a request to the President to declare a disaster. This enables many federal resources, including D-SNAP, to become available in CA. In the event of a disaster, all surrounding CFO contractors are asked to provide assistance. Assistance may include accepting and disseminating CalFresh Disaster Response materials at your organization or campus. It may also include tabling and/or providing outreach at events. Subcontractors are required to help with these activities, but only within their capability.

  • K2 What do the acronyms SARS and RE stand for? 

    SARS – Semi-Annual Reporting – This report is due periodically depending on the household composition. Most households must submit a SAR 7 report 6 months after they were approved for CalFresh Food benefits.

    RE – Recertification - Most households will need to recertify annually. This includes an interview and submitting verifications if there are changes.

    Households with older adults and individuals with disabilities may have varying reporting responsibilities.