Coalition Letter to Congress about SNAP Student Rules in the Farm Bill 2024

April 2, 2024

Today, The Hope Center at Temple University led 168 organizations representing a diverse coalition of advocates, students, institutions of higher education, national and state higher education associations, labor unions, civil rights organizations, researchers, and service providers, calling on Congress to address the urgent crisis of food insecurity among students in higher education in as lawmakers work to reauthorize the Farm Bill this year. In particular, our coalition urges Congress to reform the overly complex and outdated student rules in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that prevent low-income college students experiencing food insecurity from accessing critical food assistance, and remove administrative burdens and barriers to better facilitate enrollment among eligible students.

Nationally representative federal data released in 2023 reveal that more than 4.3 million students in higher education experience food insecurity, and undergraduate students experience food insecurity and hunger at twice the rate of all U.S. households. Food insecurity severely threatens students’ ability to complete higher education, harms economic growth, and contributes to people leaving college without a degree or credential, often with significant student debt and poorer job prospects. Students who are food insecure are more likely to have a lower grade point average, take a reduced course load, and consider dropping out of college. Food insecurity is also strongly associated with mental and behavioral health challenges, including depression and anxiety, among college students.

The coalition letter offers several recommendations and models for reforming and removing restrictions in SNAP that create barriers for college students with low incomes, and eliminating bureaucratic and other hurdles to ensure those who meet SNAP eligibility criteria are able to access and use their benefits.