Al Lawson Champions Expanding SNAP Benefits for College Students

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., is backing the “Student Food Security Act” from U.S. Rep. Jahna Hayes, D-Ct.

The bill will “address food insecurity on college campuses by enabling more low-income college students to access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and pushing the federal government, states, and colleges and universities to take a more proactive role in addressing student food insecurity.” Other supporters include U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and U.S. Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif.,

Lawson and Warren worked on a similar piece of legislation back in 2019.

The North Florida congressman pointed to a 2018 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which found “that more than 30 percent of college students may face food insecurity and that almost 60 percent of potentially eligible students were not receiving SNAP benefits” and a new survey which showed “that nearly 40 percent of community college students are food insecure, almost half of the students surveyed are housing insecure, and 14 percent have experienced homelessness.”

The bill would make expanding SNAP benefits for college students, which took place during the pandemic, permanent.

“Food insecurity is a real concern for many college students across our Florida’s Fifth District, and the pandemic has further elevated this problem,” Lawson said last week. “We can’t have students forced to make hard choices between paying for food over books, transportation or other necessities. Not having access to proper nutrition can affect a student’s ability to concentrate in class, and in turn, their grades may start to slip. The Student Food Security Act aims to help students get the assistance they need in order to be successful.”

“Far too many college students struggle to meet their basic needs while they get their education – and the pandemic has made this problem even worse,” Warren said. “As students take on a mountain of student loan debt, they shouldn’t have to choose between paying tuition and eating. Our bill will ensure college students can succeed without going hungry.”

“Every college student deserves a quality education free of hunger,” Sanders said. “In the richest country in the world, it is an outrage that college students struggle with hunger every day. Enough is enough. We must eradicate hunger on college campuses.”

“College students have suffered through food insecurity without assistance for too long. Especially in light of the hunger crisis that has affected so many, it is crucial we ensure all students have access to reliable, nutritious meals while they complete their education,” said Hayes who leads the U.S. House Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations Subcommittee. “I have met with college students across Connecticut who have made it clear – they need our help. The Student Food Security Act is a comprehensive proposal that will address the vast nutrition needs of college students by expanding access to SNAP, increasing outreach to eligible students to bolster participation, and investing $1 billion a year to help colleges meet the food and housing needs of students. I thank Representatives Lawson and Torres, as well as Senators Warren, Murphy, Padilla, and Sanders for their partnership on this crucial legislation.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Education and Labor and the Agriculture Committees.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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