Is food part of the financial aid package for students?

August 23, 2022 00:25:36
Is food part of the financial aid package for students?
Just a Bite
Is food part of the financial aid package for students?
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Show Notes

Classes are back in session, and we are kicking off fall semester with a discussion with the Food Research & Action Center’s SNAP Deputy Director, Andrew Cheyne. We talk about the temporary expansion of SNAP eligibility for college students, the ‘broke college student’ trope, and how we can work to permanently expand access to SNAP and better meet the needs of current college students.  

References: 

Do you think you may be eligible for SNAP? You can connect to resources HERE.  

Follow FRAC on their website, on their blog, through their email newsletter, on Twitter @fractweets and their Facebook page. Follow Andrew on his Twitter @cheyne_andrew. 

Learn more about the bills FRAC is supporting, including the EATS Act.  

U.S. Government Accountability Office Report on “Food Insecurity: Better Information Could Help Eligible College Students Access Federal Food Assistance Benefits” 

“Connecting Community College Students to SNAP,” report by Ashley Burnside and Parker Gilkesson of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and Patricia Baker of Mass Law Reform Institute (MLRI) 

“Need to address college student hunger gains well-deserved attention and momentum”, by Hope Lane-Gavin, the Center for Community Solutions 

The Hope Center on College, Community and Justice’s Report: #RealCollege During the Pandemic 

The Hope Center’s Review of state action on the expanded SNAP eligibility for college students: Best Kept Secrets: The Federal Government Expanded SNAP Eligibility for College Students, But Many Never Heard About It 

 

Find your local foodbank to find help, volunteer, and donate here.   

Enjoyed this episode?Pleaseleave a review and subscribeto get episodes in your podcast feed as soon as we upload every other week!    

Want more updates?Follow us onFacebook,TwitterandLinkedInand takeour latesthunger-fighting actions!   

We are licensed to use the song, Goals and Dreams by Boomer, which is distributed and owned by PremiumBeat. 

Ohio Association of Foodbanks is aregistered 501c3nonprofitorganizationwithout party affiliationorbias.We are Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger and our mission is to assist Ohio’s 12 Feeding America foodbanks in providing food and other resources to people in need and to pursueareas of common interest for the benefit of people in need.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:19 Hi, all welcome back to just a bite it's Sarah here fall semester is back in session. So I decided to speak with Andrew Shane snap, deputy director at the food research and action center are what we call frack and a former California food banker about college students and the food insecurity that they are facing. We talk about the broke college student trope, going to a history deep dive on why college students have limited access to snap and how we can increase access today. Hi Andrew. Thanks so much for being on the podcast today. Um, to start out, could you maybe give us some background about how you got involved in anti-hunger advocacy and kind of where you are today? Speaker 2 00:01:16 Yeah. Sarah, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here. Uh, my name is Andrew Shane. I am the deputy director for snap or the supplemental nutrition assistance program, uh, for the food research and action center, and really appreciate our partnership with the Ohio association of food banks and all of your member, food banks and, and other partners in, in Ohio. And we just really appreciate your great work. Uh, personally, I got involved in anti-hunger advocacy initially while being in an adjoining space, um, on the public health community side, um, an organization that was working, uh, for example, on the child attrition, reauthorization, um, act, uh, the healthy Hunger-Free kids act of 2010. Um, and through that process really started to learn more about staff, learn more about the, um, federal nutrition programs broadly, how they're, how they're funded, um, the federal legislative process. Speaker 2 00:02:08 Um, and then in 2014 was really excited to move over to your sister organization, the California association of food banks, uh, where I was director of government affairs for about eight years. Um, and there had the opportunity to, to really just work across, um, the anti-hunger spectrum. I think what's something that's really unique to state associations of, of food banks and really powerful about them is that they're working obviously on immediate direct service, um, getting food to people in, in need in California, we operate the, uh, um, farm to family program, uh, the, the nation's largest food recovery program, getting it to food banks from, from farms. Um, and then, uh, uh, the, that organization has one of the largest snap outreach contracts, uh, working with what 50 organizations trying to make sure that if someone presents it at food bank, are they also able to, you know, get onto snap and other resources? Um, so maximizing those programs, and then my focus obviously was, was upstream working on policy and systems change. So really working from those day to day needs to like, what can we do to change the law and, and, and get investments, uh, to really, you know, address future need, um, and, and endeavor towards a hunger free future we know is possible. Speaker 1 00:03:22 We love to have a, um, a food banker in our midst too. So it's, it's great to hear about that experience. Um, could you kind of give a brief, like, history lesson about how, um, and why college students have such stringent, um, requirements to receiving snap? We know, like they, um, either have to work a certain amount of hours, um, or have to be a caregiver for a dependent. So could you kind of go over that for us? Speaker 2 00:03:55 Yes. And, um, before I do this, I just want to give, um, a shout out to a report done, um, by pat baker at the Massachusetts law reform Institute, as well as Ashley Burnside and Parker Gil Kessen, um, at the, um, center for law and social policy class. So they have a report, um, that where the appendix a actually writes up a lot of this history. So I, I commend anyone interested in this topic to that it's a fantastic resource, but to summarize, uh, this, uh, issue goes back to, uh, the 1960s and seventies. Um, so we can just imagine a time, uh, where there is incredible student activism. Um, there are overlapping connections between students rights and free speech movements, um, and movements led, um, by, by black people in this country around civil rights, um, and women's movement and lots of other intersections, um, happening. Speaker 2 00:04:47 Um, there, uh, were amendments starting in the, the sixties and 1970s to enact restrictions on college students receiving snap. And that really was informed by, um, uh, a desire that, you know, the, these students were, were idle like voluntarily idle. Um, if they, you know, why aren't they working, um, they should be working, uh, and if they're, you know, if they're going to school, um, then aren't, they really supported by their parents, you know, the quote unquote, um, traditional student, um, who may be able to look low income on paper, but, but really, um, you know, has resources. Um, and, and it isn't deserving of, of assistance. And all of that sort of myth of the starving college student, um, took hold and we know is still pernicious today. When in fact there have been extraordinary changes, um, that have increased food insecurity, housing, instability, and, and hardship for students. Speaker 2 00:05:42 So many more students are first generation. Um, uh, our parents, um, are caretaking for others, um, are coming from, from lower income backgrounds, um, as a means to try it and have economic mobility by getting their degree. Um, and yet these rules are really still based on a much more outdated model. Um, while at the same time, there has been an extraordinary decline in the value of the Pell grant. Um, it's gone from, uh, covering approximately 80% of, of students, um, basic, um, tuition and fees, um, down to, I think it's somewhere in the, in the thirties. Um, and there has been a decline in investment relatively speaking in, in financial aid and in work study positions. And so even though there are some ways in which students can be exempt from the rule, which as you pointed out, um, unless a student is able to meet one of these complex, uh, difficult to navigate exemptions, uh, there is, um, a rule that just targets students, um, with a, with a 20 hour, um, work requirement. Speaker 2 00:06:42 Um, and this is on top of, of students who are going to, to school already half time. So that, um, that's really the way the rule works is that, um, if you're going to school less than half time, I think there's recognition that, you know, you may be working, but if you're going to school quote, unquote, full time, um, you need to be working on top of that, um, in order to access snap, unless you're eligible for of those, um, the exemptions. So that has the effect of one creating the perception that students aren't eligible or, or certainly that, um, that they're not deserving of, of assistance. And, you know, for the, the states like, um, California, Massachusetts, Penn, Pennsylvania, several states are, are trying to really enact, um, you know, those exemptions and make pathways for college students. It's just been incredibly challenging. It's difficult for our states and counties to administer. And it's incredibly challenging for our students, financial aid offices, higher education institutions to try and explain to students, yes, you, you seem like the eligible you should apply. Um, but then to navigate all that, um, it's really, uh, I think it's no surprise that the, um, the GAO, the, the government accountability office in 2018, just prior to the pandemic found that approximately 2 million students were likely eligible for snap, uh, not accessing benefits and going hungry Speaker 1 00:07:57 And snap is just already hard to navigate. Um, and then add on top of, you know, all those rules and exemptions, you know, the pandemic hit, and it was really a terrible, um, and still is a terrible time for a lot of folks. But, you know, one of the good things that had happened was that these requirements were sort of relaxed temporarily. I was wondering if you could go into detail, um, about like, you know, what are sort of the new rules? I mean, these are still in, in the temporary rules are still in place right now. Um, and I think when we're, we're talking to folks, a lot of people ask, you know, like how long can college Jones rely on these, um, temporary rules? So I know I threw a lot at you, but <laugh>, Speaker 2 00:08:52 I was just gonna say there there's a lot here, but I will do my best to cover it all and, uh, speak slowly <laugh>. Um, but we have written up some pieces on this as well, which I'd be glad to, to flag for, for folks, um, who wanna read more. I know it can sometimes be hard to take all this in, um, just listening. I know it is for me sometimes. So before I answer about the temporary, um, exemptions, I think it's important to understand and take us back to that moment. In, in, in the spring of 2020, when the world melted down, you know, in my own personal life, I saw it on the K12 side, uh, with having younger kids. Um, but the same thing was happening with higher education, right? Um, the campuses were going remote. Uh, students were having, uh, they couldn't access their, their work study position. Speaker 2 00:09:39 Um, they, uh, were just even figuring out how to take their classes online, um, and figure out those remote options. Uh folks' um, housing became, you know, more precarious in a lot of situations. Um, it was just really an overwhelming, uh, burden on, on students, but thinking about some of those exemptions, we, we, we talked about, you know, one is a student could be participating in, in work study, you know, or in a, in a program that could improve. Employability will. A lot of that became either impossible if you couldn't go to your, your work study job, because campus was, was closed, um, or other disruptions to those programs. And so I forget the exact number, but it's something like 30 states wrote to the U S G a asking to either wave this 20 hour week work requirement. We know, waive the student role or provide some exemption to it. Speaker 2 00:10:26 And the U S G issued a blanket denial, which was incredibly unfortunate to see now at the same time organizations like frac, um, and our partners around the country had been advocating for federal legislation. Even prior to the pandemic saying, we gotta get rid of this rule. Like I said, it had already been documented how harmful the rule was. And so we were asking Congress, um, to, uh, permanently end the student rule, or if not permanently, at least on a temporary basis and the rule. And so there was legislation from California, um, from representatives, Jimmy Gomez and, and Jimmy Pineta to at least temporarily waive the, the rule during the pandemic. And so that's what we were asking for was just to, to get rid of it in entirely, uh, students still have to navigate the rest of the complicated snap rules as you spoke to, um, but no special exclusions on students given that hardship. Speaker 2 00:11:17 And, uh, we were not able to get anything in families first or the cares acts, but in the consolidated appropriations act of, of 2021, um, there were, there were two provisions, um, and those were to open up snap for students who have, uh, work study, um, eligibility. So even if they're not participating in a work study, but they've been, they, you know, they're eligible to participate, um, or students who have a zero expected family contribution, uh, through their FAFSA, uh, which includes students receiving the maximum Pell grant and that, uh, has dramatically simplified and, and expanded, um, uh, access to snap for, for students. Um, I was just earlier this week presenting with the California student aid commission and the California snap agency department of social services on the fact that financial aid offices were able to send out mass information, um, to the students saying, Hey, your work study eligible. Speaker 2 00:12:11 And then, um, that letter, um, could be used as verification with, um, the snap agencies to say, yep, this is, you know, verification that you're work city eligible or zero EFC. And, um, as long as you're meeting the rest of the snap rules, we can, we can get you on. Um, and so there were still quite a bit of navigation, but it really enabled some amazing partnerships, not just in California, but, but in many states. Um, and it really became much, uh, simpler and, and clearer to communicate to students while expanding eligibility. Now, you asked about how long can students rely on those. This is not, uh, an easy question to answer for a couple of reasons. So, uh, those expansions are tied to the federal public health emergency, which is still in place. I think that that's the most important message I would want for your listeners and partners is the message to students is, um, if you think you're eligible, you should still apply. Speaker 2 00:13:04 Um, because those, um, exemptions are still in place. The public health emergency has been extended at least through mid-October. So you would still have several weeks to apply and, and come onto snap. Um, and there has been a lot of speculation in the public health emergency, unfortunately, because COVID still is a significant concern in most communities in the country, um, that it will be extended, you know, at least one more time. And, and we don't know after that. Um, but it's these 90 day extensions of the federal public health emergency that make it, uh, really challenging to, to give a lot of certainty here. It's just not possible to look further ahead at this point, um, than mid-October. Um, so that is the message to students and partners is help enroll any like the eligible students now, while those exemptions are in place and that, and the second half to this answer, and the reason why we want students to come on now is that it's not as if the student's eligibility turns off when the federal public health emergency ends, there's a one month grace period, but then even following then, uh, the student will stay on snap through their certification period. Speaker 2 00:14:06 And so if they come on now, for example, let's just say, even if the federal public health emergency ends, if a student is certified for a year, they will be on for that entire year of snap. Now, the second reason why this really matters is that the student doesn't necessarily automatically have to come off of snap at that point. So let's just stay with this example where a student comes on now, federal public health emergency ends in October, the student comes up for recertification. Uh, after that point, they can still use one of the underlying exemptions to stay on snap. Um, you mentioned a couple, I've mentioned a couple it's it's, it's a mouthful to go through. Um, but there are several ways in which the student could stay on snap, even if they can no longer use zero EFC or, um, or work study eligibility. Speaker 2 00:14:50 Um, and so that's even more reason for students to stay on is that it's not as if they're, they automatically have to, to come off. Um, but all of that is gonna require really, um, uh, intentional communication between state snap agencies, between financial aid and higher education offices and community, um, organizations like the Ohio association of food banks, make sure people know what their rules are, how they're changing and how students can stay on, which is far, far easier said than done. Um, but I know lots of states and the U S D a is already working on draft materials, um, so that people are ready to go. Um, but I do think that, uh, especially for your advocate listeners, trying to make sure there's those engagements between your snap administrators, your higher education stakeholders, so that people have a plan, uh, whether it's emails, postcards, flyers, all of the above, um, ways to get that information out to students. Speaker 1 00:15:41 Yeah, I think especially as we sort of transition out from the pandemic, whenever that happens <laugh> um, and we try to economically sort of recover with, you know, the rising costs that we have been seeing and all that, those sorts of things, college students being on snap that really need to be on snap is going to be really vital, um, to making sure that they're, they're financially stable as much as they can be. You spoke to the almost trope of, but real reality of, you know, the bro college student, you know, living on, uh, 50 cent ramen noodles or, um, Mac and cheese. And that's just like, not something that we should stand for. And, um, I was just wondering if there, if you could give some examples, especially, you know, with the work that you're doing with a lot of these work groups that we've been involved in, same with, um, our colleague hope at the center for community solutions and pat baker and all those folks, um, you know, what are advocates like you doing to keep up the jumpy and make sure that, um, we could make these changes permanent and what are some other opportunities to make to make them permanent? Speaker 2 00:16:59 Yeah, no, that that's right. That, that really is the goal and a huge shout out to, to hope. Uh, I, you know, <laugh>, I, I wouldn't wanna leave anyone else out, but she really stands, um, alone, um, as, as been one of our key national, um, uh, stayed partners, but working at the national level, um, in just incredible leadership, um, driving all of this, this advocacy. So I, I really am, am glad to say that I get to work with her. Um, she's taught me so much, much mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and, and the goal absolutely is to make the rules permanent. And that's why I started there a little earlier in terms of what happened in the pandemic. If we think about what happened, uh, with the temporary exemptions, that really was a compromise, it was not what we were asking for. Um, it was exciting and, you know, it's been incredible. Speaker 2 00:17:43 Um, but it, we could have had a full suspension of the rule during, during the pandemic. And so we are always going to be, um, continuing to support, um, the, the permanent, um, uh, a permanent solution to not have, uh, inequitable access first for students. Um, because it's, it's, there's just no reason for it. And if you listen to students, you know, they talk about this as a form of policy violence. They've already presented and navigated the financial aid system. And now they're being asked again to, to demonstrate, you know, their eligibility, um, and have to navigate a separate system just to get basic food assistance. Um, and that's something that also is really important to think about those temporary exemptions, both zero EFC and work study eligibility are based on the student already having navigated the financial aid system. Uh, and there is evidence from the national financial aid administrators, uh, that not surprisingly, uh, the students least likely to navigate that system are lower income first generation from communities of color, the same students that are, are more likely to be, you know, needing to access snap. Speaker 2 00:18:50 Um, and so going forward, the good news is, is that there is legislation in both the house and the Senate, um, called the eats act. Um, the, the enhancing access to snap act, um, by Congressman Jimmy Gomez, who I mentioned earlier was also our champion during the pandemic, um, as well as, um, Senator ki Gilland. And so the, the things that are most helpful for, for advocates and, and anyone concerned about this is to get your members of Congress just cosponsor that legislation so that we can continue to build support to do the right thing and, and make permanent policy change here, um, and to continue centering student voices. Um, so if, if anyone's interested, we have, um, uh, a form that, that we've been circulating, um, for, for students. Um, but you know, that's just one way, I, I know that there are so many local stakeholder groups that have anti-hunger organizations that have students, um, whether it's, um, basic needs coalitions, whether it's student government associations, um, as well as higher education stakeholders, um, really putting together powerful multi-sector local coalitions, um, all coming together to say, look, we've gotta fix this. Speaker 2 00:20:02 We cannot continue to, to punish and exclude, uh, students in this way. Um, and so, uh, and then when all that organizing happens, it's not only helpful to push the eats act. Um, but it's to drive, uh, students and voices and needs in spaces like the white house conference on hunger that's coming up next month. Um, and so there's been a lot of work that, that we've done, um, in, in that regard and the conference, we hope will, will center our student voices and, and the needs for students to navigate higher education. Um, and it won't end there. And so all of that organizing all of that push, um, behind the eats act is going to pay dividends, um, both in the legislative arena, um, to get those policy changes that we need, but also to build the ties and the connective tissue and do the power building we need, um, to, to sustain this work. Speaker 1 00:20:51 Yeah, absolutely both are huge and important, um, and take a lot of time and care. So I appreciate a lot of your leadership and your collaboration with us. I wanna thank you also for your time. Um, I wanted to ask you, um, how the listeners can find you and your work and, um, also FRAs work. Speaker 2 00:21:15 Sure. Glad to do it, but before I do, I just wanna shout out, um, Lisa Hamer, Fugit congratulations on your award. We saw that recently, we're excited to lift you up, um, and joy. Um, it's just fantastic. And so everyone at the association just really appreciate all of your, your partnership and great work. We, the, the movement would not be nearly as strong with, without y'all. So thank you. Um, and, uh, in terms of frac, um, so we are frack.org, fac.org G. Um, and our Twitter handle is at frac tweets, um, on our website for college students. Um, you can check out the, the blog, the fr chat, where I've written a couple pieces specifically on this. And so as Alan Bollinger, who leads our work, um, you can go to the page called, uh, bills we're supporting, and under the snap section, you can find out more about the eats act. Speaker 2 00:22:03 You can also, um, find out if you're members of Congress have co-sponsored heats act by, uh, looking at bill up, um, uh, on the, uh, congress.gov website. Um, and if anyone's interested in following me on Twitter, uh, my last name's a little funky, but it's, it's at Shane underscore Andrew. Um, so I'm not gonna try and spell all that out, but maybe we can put a link to that. Um, and I'm often tweeting about the eats act and the college hunger. Uh, one thing that's been really exciting is to see how much attention this has gotten in the white house listening sessions, um, that are being held around the country by the, the various, um, committees that are gonna reauthorize the farm bill. So, um, it's, uh, a growing time of interest in this issue, and I'm really grateful for this opportunity. Thank you for this podcast. That's gonna continue to shine a light on the eats act and how we need to do right by our college students. Speaker 1 00:22:51 Thank you so much. Speaker 1 00:22:59 These temporary changes to snap to allow more college students to access the program were not just implemented by the federal government states have agencies that help implement snap and any changes to the program in Ohio's case, that is the Ohio department of job and family services. When these temporary changes to snap were established in December, 2020, when Congress passed the consolidated appropriations act. My colleagues at the Ohio association of food banks worked with the center for community solutions, Ohio department of job and family services, and the Ohio department of higher, higher education to provide guidance to Ohio's higher education institutions. So, so that they could help support their students and connect them to snap. If they were eligible fast forward to 2022 in the hope center for college community and justice released a paper reviewing all 50 state agencies and snap outreach partners to determine which states were communicating and educating about the expanded snap eligibility for students. Speaker 1 00:24:18 We were thrilled to be a part of the effort that led the hope center to determine that Ohio was one of the eight states who have done a high level of outreach to college students. The actions that were taken by the group of state agencies and organizations in Ohio included serve surveying institutions on what they're doing to address food insecurity on their campuses, providing guidance to institutions on sharing information about snap El snap eligibility with college students, through their financial aid award letters or through their student organizations. And many more. We at the Ohio association of food banks are committed to building on the success advocating for this expanded eligibility to be permanent. If you think you may be eligible for snap, we will list or help page below in the show notes. Thank you for listening. And we'll talk to you soon.

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