Scott, Fudge Introduce Legislation to Protect Access to Food Assistance for Displaced College Students
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11) introduced the End Pandemic Hunger for College Students Act to ensure low-income college students can access Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during school closures due to COVID-19. The bill comes as widespread campus closures are exacerbating the financial challenges facing students across the country.
A 2019 survey released by Temple University indicated that 45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days.
Currently, in addition to other requirements, SNAP requires college students to work at least 20 hours per week to qualify for the benefits. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) denied a request by several states to waive these requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, even for students who were receiving SNAP prior to the public health emergency but lost eligibility due to school closures.
The End Pandemic Hunger for College Students Act temporarily suspends work requirements for college students participating in SNAP in the months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill provides USDA the flexibility to issue a nationwide waiver or state waivers, by request, and directs USDA to provide states guidance on temporary student requirements within 10 days of the bill’s enactment.
“Many college students were struggling with hunger before the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread school closures are now putting them at even greater risk,” Chairman Scott said. “As students and families are struggling to afford basic essentials and millions of workers are being laid off or furloughed, we must provide temporary flexibility to ensure communities do not go hungry. The End Pandemic Hunger for College Students Act ensures college students can still access the nutrition assistance they need.”
“As schools close and college students are forced out of their jobs and residencies, far too many students are at risk of going hungry,” Rep. Fudge said. “Food insecurity was already a problem on college campuses across the country before the pandemic, and we need to get students help before it turns into a full-blown crisis. By suspending SNAP student rules and work study requirements, the End Pandemic Hunger for College Students Act ensures continued access to nutrition assistance for vulnerable students at a time when they need it most.”
The End Pandemic Hunger for College Students Act also directs the Secretary of Education to work with USDA to inform students of temporary requirements for SNAP eligibility. Under the bill, USDA must also make publicly available on its website any waiver requests submitted by states as well as any approvals, denials, or guidance issued to states.
For the bill text of the End Pandemic Hunger for College Students Act, click here.