New SNAP regulation leads to food insecurity on college campuses

Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 7:10 AM CST
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Access to SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, is getting more strict this year. It's left one demographic even more at risk.

"When you have it give it when you need it take it," UNO student and Mavric Food Pantry volunteer Madeline St. Clair said.

UNO students like St. Clair are aware of what's happening around them. One estimate from The Center for Law and Social Policy concludes 20-33% of college students nationwide will experience food insecurity during a four-year study.

"If you're hungry you're not going to think as well, you can't study as well when you go to class and your stomach is gurgling. Like, there are so many things that hunger affects," St. Clair said.

To qualify, people between 18 and 49 who are childless and able-bodied must work 20 hours a week for over three months a year. But currently, states can waive that work requirement.

On April 1st, that loophole is closing leaving many, including some college students, without help. But, a UNO food bank aims to keep its students fed.

"We need to acknowledge it and we need to help people," St. Clair said.

Closing the loophole is one of a few ways the Trump administration is working to cut down on the number of people using the federal program. Nearly 700,000 people will no longer be eligible.

The Mavric food bank doesn't want the change to hurt their students.

"Hopefully we are changing the stigma around food insecurity and we're just trying to get the word out that we are here. and we're here to help no matter what," St. Clair said.

The Mavric food bank does take food donations, but they are in greater need of personal hygiene items and can openers. St. Clair said when people are relying on canned food, it's a handy kitchen gadget to be able to hand out.