Policy & Practice | April 2022

aphsa insights By Michelle Fausto

Food Insecurity Among BIPOC College Students: Expanding SNAP Education, Outreach, and Access to Address College Campus Hunger

T he Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has long been used as a tool to address food insecurity among households with low income, especially among families. SNAP reaches more than 80 percent of people eligible for benefits and is considered one of the nation’s most impactful federal food assistance programs. However, this high level of enrollment is not universal among all potentially eligible households; college students experience food inse- curity and considerably lower SNAP participation rates. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, of the approximately 7.3 million U.S. college students with incomes falling under eligibility for SNAP, only 2.26 million students, or 31 percent, were enrolled in 2018. College students are significantly under enrolled in SNAP, which can be attributed to a variety of issues pertaining to student eligibility requirements. For example, while a student may be of low-income status and fall below the SNAP income guide- lines, they may not meet one of the very few student exemptions that are needed to qualify for the program.

Irvine (UC Irvine), where I aided in targeted SNAP outreach efforts, 66 percent of American Indian, 52 percent of African American, and 50 percent of Hispanic/Latinx students reported facing food insecurity compared to 32 percent of White students. College students have long been overlooked in conversations sur- rounding federal antipoverty and antihunger programs, which has major implications on a student’s academic performance, health, and

(BIPOC) communities face food insecu- rity at disproportionately higher rates than the rest of the population. A 2015 study conducted at the City University of New York found that Black and Hispanic students faced food insecurity at a rate 1.5 times higher than White or Asian students. At Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), approximately 46 percent of students experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days. At the local level, we see similar trends pertaining to BIPOC student food security levels. For example, at the University of California,

Inequitable Rates of Food Insecurity and Academic Outcomes

College food insecurity is a wide- reaching issue that affects students of all demographics. However, as is the case on the national level, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

See Campus Hunger on page 28

Illustration by Chris Campbell

April 2022 Policy&Practice 21

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