Calling on USDA to clarify which college students are eligible for SNAP benefits
WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- Several members of Congress, including Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, say changes need to be made to address food insecurity among certain groups of students.
According to a release, lawmakers are urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to issue guidance clarifying college students’ eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“College students represent the future of America. Not only is it critical that we don’t saddle students with debt, but the administration should also use its executive authority to ensure low-income students have the information they need to access SNAP and other federal benefits to help them stay focused and successful in their studies,” the senators wrote. “USDA has the authority to change that.”
Specifically, the lawmakers want the USDA to clarify that several groups are eligible for SNAP benefits without work requirements, including low-income students who have been approved for federal or state work-study; low-income students enrolled in community college and four-year college programs that are career-focused with high employability chances after graduation; and low-income students with disabilities such as those with learning disabilities and serious medical conditions.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported nearly two million students at risk of going hungry were potentially eligible for SNAP but did not report getting benefits.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the situation has gotten worse among college students, exacerbating racial disparities.
The release says a 2020 survey conducted by the Hope Center at Temple University found that 32 percent of students in the Virginia Community College System had experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days.
Like their younger counterparts in elementary and high school, college students who are experiencing hunger will likely struggle and have a harder time succeeding in school.
To read the full letter to Vilsack, click here.