College Students Across Country Struggling to Afford Food, Says New Report
Saturday, January 12, 2019
GoLocalPDX News Team
A new report released from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that college students across the country are struggling to afford food and nutrition. The report finds, "despite this federal support, many low-income college students struggle to meet their basic needs, including obtaining the food that they need, and may drop out of college as a result. SNAP can be an important source of support for low-income students, although it may not completely ameliorate food insecurity."
The report was conducted after a request from U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Patty Murray, Debbie Stabenow and Ed Markey in February of 2017.
"No student should have to decide whether or not they will eat that day or go hungry while they work hard towards a better future. This GAO report is not only the first-ever federal report on hunger at American colleges and universities, but is also an important step towards ensuring students have what they need to succeed,” said Warren.
The report reviewed 31 local studies from around the country.
Markey added, "Students don't go to college to learn how to go hungry. In Massachusetts and across the country, food insecurity on college campuses is a serious problem. This report highlights solutions that will help eligible students with clear explanations of and instructions for receiving SNAP benefits. I am hopeful about the progress we can make by implementing these recommendations, and look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to further support our students."
The report confirms that food insecurity is a widespread issue and recommends the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) take steps to help enroll potentially eligible students in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
GAO noted that first-generation college students or students who are raising children as a single parent are especially at risk of food insecurity.
GAO determined that students aren't getting the information they need about SNAP benefits from the federal government and that the majority of potentially eligible students are not receiving benefits, totaling more than 1.8 million students nationwide.
Many students aren't able to receive SNAP benefits because of state or federal eligibility requirements.
To fill those gaps, GAO finds that states and colleges are working to coordinate benefits access, research student needs, and expand eligibility rules where possible.