In December 2018, the Government Accountability Office released a report about food insecurity on university campuses revealing that almost two million eligible students were not accessing potential food assistance benefits, such as the Food Nutrition Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The GAO report stated “At 9 of the 14 colleges contacted, some college officials and students said that they were unfamiliar with or did not fully understand SNAP’s student eligibility rules.”
According to the Association of American Colleges & Universities food insecurity can negatively impacts students’ abilities to academically perform. AACU also stated “that changing demographics, including increases in nontraditional and lower-income students, may contribute to high food and housing insecurity.”
The CISFS helps students apply for SNAP as well as host Harvest Share, a free food market on the second Monday of every month in the Park Blocks for both students and the surrounding community.
Vice Chair of the committee Lori Coulter said the survey reveals students are making sacrifices in their education to afford food such as not buying required textbooks and not participating in extracurriculars. The survey also showed as many as eight percent of food insecure students considered dropping out of PSU.
“[Students are] not getting the most out of what PSU has to offer because of this [food insecurity] barrier,” Coulter said.
CISFS said they have limiting funding and the committee has no full-time staff.
“Our budget is the approximate cost of less than six months of free food market, so we can’t even cover our expenses of free food market, let alone any other expenses,” said CISFS Faculty Representative Julie Boyles.
Boyles also said one of the biggest barriers preventing students from being eligible for SNAP is a requirement for a 20 hour work week.
“If you want students to be in school and you offer them some opportunities and the expectation to go to college, if they’re food insecure and really struggling, why can’t classes count as work?” Boyles said.
Students who are ineligible for SNAP can find other resources on campus to aid food insecurity.
One of these is the PSU food pantry, located in the basement of Smith Memorial Student Union, which is open Monday, Tuesday, Friday 12:30–2:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Thursday 2–4 p.m.