College students at risk of losing food stamp benefits due to hunger – San Diego Union-Tribune

College Students Facing Food Insecurity Amid SNAP Changes

Are College Students Falling Through the Cracks of the Food Assistance System?

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joseph Sais, a college student, found himself in a dire situation when his eligibility for SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps, was temporarily revoked. Raised on welfare by his grandmother, Sais relied heavily on food stamps to make ends meet while pursuing his education. The stress of not knowing where his next meal would come from took a toll on his academic performance, to the point where he considered dropping out of school.

Sais is not alone in his struggle. Many full-time college students across the country are facing serious food insecurity, a crisis that has been exacerbated by the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic. According to Radha Muthiah, president of the Capital Area Food Bank, at least 30% of college students are food insecure.

To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture relaxed eligibility requirements for SNAP benefits for college students during the pandemic, allowing more students to access the program. However, as the public health emergency subsides, many students are at risk of losing their benefits as the program reverts to pre-pandemic rules.

The looming expiration of expanded SNAP eligibility has left many college students anxious about their future. With inflation on the rise, the need for food assistance among students is only increasing. Campus food pantries, which have become a lifeline for many students, are bracing for a surge in demand as students are gradually removed from the SNAP program.

Despite the challenges they face, students like Jessilyn Morales and Joseph Sais are determined to persevere. Morales, who struggled to qualify for SNAP benefits after a sudden financial crisis, now manages to stretch her monthly payment to cover two months’ worth of food through careful budgeting. Sais, who dreams of thriving rather than just surviving, emphasizes the importance of supporting students’ basic needs so they can fully engage in their education.

As policymakers and advocates work to address the hidden crisis of food insecurity among college students, it is crucial to ensure that no student falls through the cracks of the food assistance system. By providing adequate support and resources, we can help students like Sais and Morales not only survive but thrive in their pursuit of higher education.

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