#FUELHigherEd Expand SNAP Eligibility for College Students
Defined by the USDA as having limited or uncertain access to adequate food, food insecurity has been proven to have a negative impact on students’ mental health (causing such problems as lower cognition rates, anger or anxiety leading to prolonged psychological distress, and more) and has damaging long term effects including worse health outcomes, lower academic performance, and lower graduation rates than for those who are food secure. This means the effects of food insecurity have both immediate and long-term consequences.
While this web of struggles can seem daunting to untangle, everyone from medical professionals to social workers agree that a person’s basic needs--food and housing--need to be met first for any other intervention to have a lasting impact.
We are advocating for Universal Access
Campus food insecurity is a problem of allocation not scarcity. Colleges and universities produce twenty-two million pounds of food waste every year and many campuses’ exorbitantly priced meal plans and limited dining hall hours result in millions of unused meal swipes every semester.
Challah for Hunger, the national young adult leadership development nonprofit spearheading this campaign, launched an initiative in 2016 called the Campus Hunger Project to build and train a movement of students to bridge the gap between campus services and students in need. We believe no student should have to choose between food and their education.
#FUELHigherEd is the next step in building our movement by galvanizing our network of 100+ local and national organizations behind this campaign.
We are advocating for Equitable Opportunity
A 2019 GAO report confirmed what researchers have known for decades: the image of a traditional college student--enrolled right out of high school, financially dependent on their parents, unemployed--is outdated. Currently,
The national average age for first enrollment is 21 and the overall average age of undergraduates is 26.
50% of enrolled college students are financially independent.
39% come from low-income households.
22% have dependent children and 14% are single parents.
25% work full-time and 64% work part-time while carrying full course loads.
Add to this soaring tuition costs, stagnated income levels, and shrinking federal and state aid, and students’ ability to afford their basic needs--like stable housing and regular access to enough food--is in crisis.
We are advocating for Long-term Solutions
Every state has different sanitation laws around repurposed food and varying eligibility requirements for state and federal assistance such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and every college has its own policies regarding food access on campus including meal plan requirements, dining hall hours, rolling over unused meal swipes, etc. This is why #FUELHigherEd is guided by three principles:
Students themselves need to be at the forefront of determining solutions.
SNAP needs to be expanded and eligibility restrictions for college students lifted.
States need to fill the gap SNAP doesn’t cover by increasing funding for campus interventions through Hunger Free Campus Legislation
Take action NOW by sending a letter to your Members of Congress urging them to expand SNAP eligiblity for college students.