New legislation is seeking to secure food for low-income students on campuses across the country. On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Al Lawson (D-FL) introduced a bill that will make nutrition programs more accessible to students.
The College Student Hunger Act of 2019 would make students who receive pell grants and independent students eligible to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. It would also lower the 20 hours per-week work requirement for college students to 10 hours.
Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) joined Warren as cosponsors in the Senate.
Last week, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced a similar bill that seeks to address food and housing insecurity on college campuses. The bill would collect data on food and housing insecurity on campuses across the nation and connect eligible students with SNAP.
Warren’s legislation would give additional responsibilities to the Department of Education, which would be required to notify low-income students who qualify for a pell grant that they may be eligible for SNAP.
“As more and more students struggle to afford college and take on a mountain of student loan debt, nearly one-in-three college students cannot even afford basic necessities like food,” Warren said in a statement.
“Our bill will ensure students have the support they need to work toward a better future without going hungry.”
An earlier study conducted by researchers from the University of Iowa and Temple University found that out of 30,000 college students nationally, approximately half of two-year and four-year students are food insecure. Another 2018 study found that 36 percent of college students experience hunger.
A similar report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 30 percent of college students today are food insecure.
The bill mandates the Departments of Agriculture and Education to run demonstration pilot projects to test ways to ensure better implementation of SNAP programs that benefit students the most. It would also advise states and colleges on helping eligible students better access and use their SNAP benefits.