Tighter Oversight Sought for Nutrition Grants, Fraud Reporting

The Agriculture Dept. Food & Nutrition Service seeks to tighten the reporting standards and reduce the fraud in the distribution of funding through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (CFDA Number: 10.331).

Public Comment Deadline: Jan. 15.

Each year, SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) state agencies are required to submit an overarching activity report: the Program and Budget Summary Statement Part B, Program Activity Statement (FNS-366B). It includes funding distribution as well as fraud activity, the total number of fraud referrals, investigations, prosecutions and disqualifications.

Based on the results of an FNS management evaluation the state reporting lacks consistency and the FNS-366B does not have clearly defined data elements or instructions, according to a Federal Register notice. Due to the lack of clarity in these instructions, responses are left open to interpretation, and do vary among states, leading to unreliable reported data, the notice said.

New Data Requirements

Further, the FNS-366B lacks certain data elements that would increase its effectiveness and provide more accurate information. FNS is considering the addition of new data elements, such as those focusing on trafficking investigations and disqualifications, in order to gather better information that allows FNS to focus on fraud prevention. FNS is also considering changes to the frequency states report the information collected on the FNS-366B. An increase in reporting frequency would allow for greater and more timely access to program data. It would help states and FNS identify trends, inconsistencies and inefficiencies earlier in each fiscal year. With more current data, states and other interested parties would be able to identify gaps and areas in need of greater attention, the notice said.

Lastly, FNS is proposing to add new reporting elements to better measure the effectiveness and impact of fraud prevention activities, like a standard to determine the savings from a fraud prevention effort. For example, if an investigation finds that a recipient is guilty of trafficking, how many program dollars might have been abused if the case was not uncovered, the notice said.

Open Grants

FNS is currently seeking applications for a new round of Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grants (Funding Opportunity Number: USDA-NIFA-FINI-004695). The competition will distribute $31.5 million in multiple awards (a 1:1 match is required).

Deadline: Dec. 15.

These grants support projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the by providing incentives at the point of purchase. It is part of the USDA’s larger $18.2 billion funding effort for Child Nutrition programs. Most SNAP funding goes to support needy children and their families.

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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