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Hunger is an unwelcome staple at college campuses across New Jersey. More than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat, studies show. We are working on solutions to ensure no student has to choose between eating and an education.
Student hunger was cited as the third most important issue affecting college campuses, according to another survey conducted by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).
Yes! Unfortunately, many eligible college students do not receive SNAP. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report, released Jan. 10, 2019, found that more than half – 57 percent – of at-risk students were not participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP, aka food stamps) in 2016.
New Jersey is taking steps to address this problem. In November 2018, the state Department of Human Services changed state rules to allow income-eligible students enrolled in career and technical education programs to qualify.
Students ages 18 to 49 enrolled at least half-time in a college, university, community college or business, technical, trade or vocational school may be eligible for SNAP. Eligibility depends on various factors like income, household size, resources, etc.
Those most at risk for hunger were first-generation college students and single parents, the report found.
Hungry college students, like younger students, struggle to concentrate and succeed in school. They may be forced to delay their education to make ends meet – setting them up for a cycle of poverty that will be increasingly difficult to break.
New Jersey recently enacted the Hunger Free Campus Act, (A-4702/S-3239), which establishes a fund to help colleges expand access to SNAP and enact other policies to combat campus hunger. We will be working with state officials and the college community to ensure successful implementation.
Signed into law in 2019, the Hunger-Free Campus Act appropriates $1 million to address hunger among college students.
College and universities can apply for grants to help more students enroll in SNAP and allow them to use benefits to buy food at campus stores.
Funds can also be used to establish food pantries and develop a “Swipe Out Hunger” student meal credit sharing program or designate a certain amount of funds for free meal vouchers.