Policy & Practice | April 2022

CAMPUS HUNGER continued from page 21

By seeking and establishing relationshipswith

administrative burdens. This mis- conception means that although the number of students eligible for SNAP is significantly high, the number of those enrolling in the program remains relatively low. For example, at HBCUs, only two-in-five students who reported facing basic needs insecurity accessed at least one public benefit, and only one-in- five received help from their institution to apply for SNAP. In addition to conducting outreach, FRESH also offers one-on-one SNAP application assistance via Zoom. To center the voices of BIPOC students and students with lived experiences, most of these appointments are led by student advocates, a team of student workers trained to understand the SNAP application process. Peers under- stand the college experience; having students assist other students intro- duces a level of trust and vulnerability and helps BIPOC students feel more comfortable in seeking help. While UC Irvine has taken great steps toward increasing awareness about and enrollment in SNAP among the college- eligible population, other colleges have trouble establishing a comprehensive SNAP education, outreach, and enroll- ment program on their own campuses. These barriers typically stem from lack of communication between county health and human services agencies and the respective college campuses. Due to staffing shortages and adminis- trative burdens, state and local offices are usually not equipped with resources to understand specific, and sometimes unclear, student eligibility rules that may vary from school to school. By seeking and establishing relationships with colleges in their area, state human services agencies or local offices can work with colleges to increase the number of students applying for SNAP by avoiding issues like wrongful denials that happen when caseworkers are not well-informed about student eligibili- ties. Human services agencies can also work with college campus leaders to How Human Services Can Help

career prospects. For example, among students at UC Irvine, students experi- encing food insecurity reported facing higher rates of academic dissatisfac- tion, concentration issues, poor study behaviors, and barriers to college completion. Lack of access to consistent and nutritious food directly affects academic outcomes and is associated with health problems such as “diabetes, obesity, and depression.” Poor academic outcomes and poor health further exac- erbate issues that college students face, which leads to barriers to higher educa- tion attainment such as higher rates of degree incompletion. For example, in a nationally representative longitudinal survey by Cambridge University, only 43.8 percent of students experiencing food insecurity completed their degree compared to 68.1 percent of students who did not face these issues. College completion has long been assessed to be “a powerful predictor of longevity, lifetime health, healthier behaviors, income, and life satisfaction.” For BIPOC students who disproportionately come from low-income backgrounds, food insecurity at the college level rein- forces a generational cycle of poverty and food insecurity. Engaging Students and Understanding Eligibility At UC Irvine, the FRESH Basic Needs Hub (https://basicneeds.uci. edu/) recognizes the prevalence of food insecurity on its campus and highlights how basic needs insecurity greatly impacts a student’s mental and physical health, academic perfor- mance, work productivity, and holistic success. The domino effect that hunger has on the college student experience can be long lasting, especially the effects of poor mental health and poor academic performance on life beyond college. Mitigating the issue of hunger on college campuses requires both short-term and long-term solutions. During my time at FRESH, I worked to increase student awareness about SNAP as both an immediate support for when students find themselves experi- encing a difficult time, or as a resource

for students to use on an ongoing basis to support them through their studies. Many college students I spoke to during my time at FRESHwere sur- prised to learn that they are potentially eligible for SNAP because of eligibili- ties specific to college students, such as being a work-study recipient, having an expected family contribution (EFC) of zero, or having a disability. Two of these eligibilities emerged out of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which temporarily expanded student SNAP eligibility during the COVID-19 pandemic to include having an EFC of zero, and being eligible to participate in state- or federal-financed work study. Nonetheless, most students had the misconception that they had to meet the 20-hour work week require- ment as able-bodied adults without dependent applicants to be eligible, not knowing about these specific student eligibilities. In fact, many students across the country have this miscon- ception because of historical barriers to SNAP for college students, complex student exemption rules, and other of students applying for SNAP by avoiding issues likewrongful denials that happen when caseworkers are not well-informed about student eligibilities. colleges in their area, state human services agencies or local offices canworkwith colleges to increase the number

Policy&Practice April 2022 28

Made with FlippingBook Annual report maker