Saturday, December 21, 2019

New SNAP Rule Impacts College Students By Limiting Benefits And Adding Confusion

December 21, 20197:00 AM ET
Rachel Treisman


Some low-income college students are among the 688,000 food stamp recipients projected to lose benefits as a result of a Trump administration rule announced Dec. 4. While the rule explicitly targets "able-bodied adults without dependents," it also limits food assistance for a share of college students at a time when campuses across the country are already grappling with how to respond to food insecurity.

The new rule makes it harder for states to waive the requirement that adults work at least 20 hours a week in order to receive their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP — benefits. Policy experts say it will limit benefits for college students enrolled less than half-time while further complicating the already confusing process of determining students' eligibility and connecting them to resources.


"Most people who receive SNAP who can work, do work," she says. "But there are a lot of jobs and specifically low wage jobs out here that have volatile schedules ... people can be let go at any time, so we shouldn't allow people to go hungry just based on their ability to maintain work."


As a SNAP worker, she saw the impact that fresh food and hot meals had on clients' lives.

"You need food to live, you need food to work, you need food to thrive," Gilkesson says. "And hunger does not make people more employable either."
It also does not make them easier to concentrate and learn.

In fact, she adds, hunger makes it harder for people to find well-paying jobs that align with their skills, and often leads to cycles of being laid off, having to find a new job quickly, and missing out on the opportunity to gain the education, training and skills necessary for more meaningful and sustainable employment.

She says research shows SNAP encourages work, and that the idea that people experiencing poverty don't want to get jobs is "implicit bias."


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