Supervisors Want Low-Income College Students to be Eligible for SNAP Benefits During COVID-19 Crisis
San Pedro, CA – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is taking steps to protect college students experiencing food insecurity. Today the Board unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Janice Hahn to send a letter to federal leaders in support of suspending the strict eligibility requirements for college students applying for SNAP benefits. The letter will be sent to members of the Senate and House leadership, Chairs and Ranking Members of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, and the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federally funded program that provides anti-hunger benefits to eligible participants. In California, it is known as Calfresh. Currently, college students’ eligibility for these benefits is limited unless they meet certain exceptions, such as working at least 20 hours a week or taking part in a state or federally financed work study program. However, many college students have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.
“During normal times, these restrictions already create unnecessary barriers for college students facing food insecurity,” said Supervisor Hahn, who authored the motion. “During a worldwide pandemic, they are simply unjustifiable. With campuses closed and job losses at record levels, it will be difficult if not impossible for students to meet the requirements of work hour requirements. Unless we take action now to eliminate the barriers placed by these SNAP eligibility requirements, many more college students in LA County and across the nation will go hungry.”
California State University (CSU) Study of Students Basic Needs released in January 2018 found that 41.6 percent of CSU students reported food insecurity. According to that same study, close to 70% of CSU students would be eligible for CalFresh based on their household income alone. However, when the stricter requirements placed on college students were considered, less than half of those in financial need would qualify.