CalFresh Outreach

FAQ CFO Contract

Questions Related to Subcontractors' Internal Processes

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A. Outreach

Daily & Events

B. Program Reporting

C. Branding & Social Media

D. Outreach with the County

E. Confidentiality & Civil Rights Trainings

F. Contract & 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:

    1. Year 1: 10/1/2021-9/30/2022
    2. Year 2: 10/1/2022-9/30/2023
    3. Year 3: 10/1/2023-9/30/2024
  • 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 CHC  at the end of each quarter (every 3 months) to request reimbursement. State Share is what your campus or organization already pays for and is reported along with the Federal Share expenses each quarter. All expenses reported must have occurred within the timeframe of the designated quarter.

    Quarterly federal share invoice and state share documentation reports (SSDR) are completed within the provided invoice workbook and are due along with personnel back-up documentation (Time & Effort Forms) within 30 days of the end of each quarter. Once we receive a completed and signed invoice, we typically review and 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 80% 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 80% 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 in future years? 

    We’ve held this contract since 2009 and we anticipate if there is funding available that the contract would continue. It is funded through the Farm Bill and administered by the California Department of Social Services. There is no guarantee however, we’ve continued to expand this program and do not foresee it ending as California continues to prioritize supporting food security and basic needs efforts.

  • 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 reach out to your assigned CHC Program Manager or Fiscal Analyst if you need to be added to the CIF.

  • 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 basic needs state 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 it’s 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?

    For this contract there are two distinct but complimentary portions of the budget. These portions are the State Share, which makes up 2/3 of the total, and Federal Share, which makes up the other 1/3 of the total budget. This also means that State Share is double the amount Federal Share or 2:1 ratio.

    The State Share portion is the monetary representation of CalFresh allowable activities occurring at your site that is supported by other non-federal funds (similar to match or cost share for other grants and contracts). The Federal Share portion is the amount that is reimbursed, or paid, to the subcontractors based on actual expenses reported.

    Allowability applies to both state and federal share reported expenses. 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 as that would be considered duplication.

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

G. Fiscal Reporting & Budget Adjustments

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

    All fiscal reports and Time & Effort forms (TEFs) are due 30-days after the end of each quarter. A table of specific dates can be found on our main Subcontractor Resources webpage.(opens in new window)

    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?

    Individual organization’s time reporting forms may be allowable in place of the Time & Effort Form templates provided 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.  

    The form must clearly include the following all on a single form:

    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
    4. If prorated costs are being reported, the form must also have the percentage of work applied towards the project (CalFresh Outreach) clearly indicated.
  • 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 and make revisions/edits in your budget workbook for the year(s) in which you are requesting to make the changes. All BARs must 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 system?

    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.

  • G8. What are the signature requirements for Time & Effort Forms (TEFs)?

    TEFs are the required personnel back-up documentation for fiscal reports each quarter. TEFs should be signed by both the staff member and the supervisor. Try to plan ahead to acquire signatures prior to staff leaving for breaks or ending employment.

    If it is not possible to acquire a signature, you may state on the TEF that the staff member is “Unavailable for signature” or “No longer employed”. Do not sign on behalf of unavailable employees. We request that you utilize this option as sparingly as is feasible. Depending on the number of missing signatures, we may request written justification to request an exception for fully signed TEFs.

  • G9. On Time & Effort Forms (TEFs), how do we utilize the employee time base cell?

    This cell is only relevant if PTO is being reported on the individual’s TEF. The goal of this cell is to correctly allocate prorated PTO.

    If PTO is reported, the value in the “Employee Time Base” cell on an individual’s TEF should represent the total number of hours that individual has worked in the quarter divided by the total hours available to work in the quarter.

    For example, if a part-time employee works 25 hours per week for a total of 13 weeks all on CFO, you could use a calculation of =(25*13/520 [total hours available in quarter]) to determine the employee time base (in this example, .625). In this scenario, if all of the employee’s hours are on CFO, adjusting the employee time base in this way will change the “Percentage of Hours Worked Applied to CFO” to 100%, thus allocating 100% of PTO to CFO. If 20 out of the 25 hours were worked on CFO, then the “Percentage of Hours Worked Applied to CFO” will be 80%, and thus 80% of the PTO will be allocated to CFO.

    Similarly, if a full-time employee’s start date was on the 16th workday of a quarter with 65 work days, a calculation of =1*(50/65) would determine the employee time base (in this example, .769). The “1” represents a 1.0FTE or 40-hour work week, while the 50/65 represents that the employee was available to work for 50 out of the 65 days in that quarter.

    For further information and visual examples, please review the “Time & Effort Forms” video from our CFO Fiscal 101 Video Series(opens in new window) or reach out to your fiscal analyst.

H. General Funding Allowability

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

    Any SNAP/CalFresh allowable activities(opens in new window) 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(opens in new window) for details.

    Examples of allowable campus funding include CCC and CSU Hunger Free Campus Initiative funding, 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(opens in new window) 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 unallowable 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 give away items such as pens, stickers, notepads, t-shirts, etc. using this funding?

    These items are generally not allowable. 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?

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

    Requires pre-approval:

    • Equipment that was not approved in the original contract. Please note that any item costing more than $5,000 per unit is considered equipment. This $5,000 threshold factors in the full unit cost, including acquisition costs (taxes, shipping, delivery, assembly, etc.).
    • Theft sensitive items (computers, cameras, etc.) that were not approved in the original contract.
    • For travel, CDSS requires pre-approval at least 30-days before the travel occurs when it was not included in the original contract.
  • H8. Is professional development an allowable activity/expense?

    Yes, professional development is an allowable expense with CalFresh Outreach dollars. Either hiring an outside trainer to come to train the CFO staff or sending CFO staff members attend an external training are both allowable so long as the topics support CFO operations or efforts. Budget for this expense under “Other Costs” category. Any anticipated travel will need to be approved separately and budgeted as Travel.

I. Personnel Allowability & Guidelines

  • I1. Can we report hours from faculty and staff working on basic needs programs?

    Yes, the portion of time those individuals spend supporting CalFresh Outreach allowable activities as part of their overall basic needs role can be captured. Keep in mind, this time will need to be reported using a Time and Effort Form. Please see the Fiscal Templates & Resources page for the forms and information on completing the forms.

  • 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(opens in new window) 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) beginning on page 16); however, if the individual is promoting CalFresh and/or prescreening 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(opens in new window) 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(opens in new window) for more example position descriptions. In addition, there are additional suggestions and description examples for position descriptions(opens in new window)

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

    Unfortunately, CalWORKs staff, Work Study students, and individuals working for TRIO programs cannot be captured as State Share.

    These programs are typically partially or fully federally funded, making them ineligible to be used as match/state share.

    For CalWORKs specifically within California Community Colleges: Though the Budget Accounting Manual indicates CalWORKs is state funded, these Prop 98 state funds are already used as match for other federal funds making them unallowable as State Share for CalFresh Outreach.

  • 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: webinars, phone calls, Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA), invoicing, grant management activities, supervision of staff/interns, presentations on CFO (incl. at meetings), outreach planning, outreach activities, talking, collaborating, or any task related to CFO allowable activities can be counted.

  • I9. Can we report unpaid intern time as State Share and what are the guidelines for doing so?

    Yes, the USDA SNAP Outreach Guidance (page 30) (PDF), specifies that volunteer services (including unpaid interns) for public organizations are allowable as State Share as long as they are performing CFO allowable activities and this time is not already reported as match for any other funding. Additionally, the intern/volunteer 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 year, will be knowledgeable in CalFresh Outreach and actively contributing toward reaching SOW deliverables), not just providing one-time only help (e.g. solely setting up for or breaking down an outreach booth or posting flyers for CFO promotional events).

    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.

    CDSS requests, unless otherwise approved, the minimum wage of the county in which your organization is located will be used to calculate the value of the volunteer/intern time (hours x min wage rate = total value). No fringe benefits can be associated with unpaid interns, but the total value of their time can be included in the indirect/F&A base if this is allowable per your organization’s indirect cost rate agreement or other guiding policies.

J. Travel Allowability & Guidelines

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

    Conference and meeting travel is an allowable expense if it meets the following criteria:

    • Is a conference or meeting where CalFresh is 100% of the schedule or agenda.
    • The conference or meeting is listed in the travel section of your approved budget and involves individuals listed in the personnel section of your approved budget.
      • If the meeting was not pre-approved; you will need to obtain preapproval before adding it to the budget and being able to expense for it.

    All other conference and meeting travel within California must be pre-approved by the California Department of Social Services. Guidelines for pre-approval of travel within California is in the CalFresh Travel & Per Diem (PDF)Travel can be single day or overnight.

    If you would like to include any conference travel beyond what is currently included in your approved budget, please reach out to your Fiscal Analyst so they 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. 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. 

    Examples of parking costs 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.

K. Other Questions

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

    When there is a disaster (e.g., large wildfire), the Governor of California submits a request to the President to declare a disaster. This enables many federal resources, including “DisasterSNAP”, to become available in CA – hence the name “Disaster-CalFresh”. In the event of a disaster, all surrounding CFO contractors are asked to provide assistance. Assistance may include disseminating CalFresh Disaster Response materials at your organization or campus, partnering with other organizations in the area to spread information, etc. Subcontractors are required to help with these activities, but only within their capability.