WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) continued her work to combat food insecurity by announcing the introduction of the Overcoming Higher Education Hunger Through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (OHH SNAP) Act. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) is co-leading the introduction of the OHH SNAP Act. This legislation would allow independent students and students with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 to be eligible to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The OHH SNAP Act would also make it easier for students to access SNAP benefits by excluding financial aid used for living expenses from personal income and counting time spent attending an institution of higher education towards SNAP work requirements.
Currently, nearly 33% of college students do not have enough to eat, yet only 18% are eligible for SNAP benefits. According to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report analyzing federal student survey data, just 31% of college students who meet SNAP income limits reported receiving SNAP benefits while the other 69% of potentially eligible students received none.
Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) said:
“College should be a time of promise and opportunity. But for too many students, basic needs like food are inaccessible and going hungry makes it impossible to learn. The OHH SNAP Act is a commonsense way to make sure college students get the nutrition they need while completing their education and preparing to change the world.”
Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) said:
“College students across Connecticut struggle with hunger while working towards their degrees. Higher education should be a bridge to success and financial stability, but so many students show up to class worrying where they will get their next meal. These hard-working students are immediately at a disadvantage. The OHH SNAP Act will make it easier for low-income students or students with an EFC of $0 to participate in SNAP. Year after year, I have joined my colleagues to put forward legislation to address this important issue.”
Michael L. Sanseviro, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Engagement at Georgia State University said:
“Food insecurity among college students is an on-going challenge that not only has an immediate impact on a student’s daily well-being, but also a residual impact on academic success and ability to complete college. Students who lack basic nutrition can’t properly function, and the ripple effects can be devasting – increased risk of illness, grades drop, loss of HOPE scholarship and financial aid, all of which have long-term effects on future earning potential if a student leaves with debt and no degree.”
The OHH SNAP Act is endorsed by several organizations including: National College Attainment Network (NCAN), Higher Learning Advocates (HLA), Center for Higher Education Policy and Practice at SNHU, uAspire, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank.
Kyle Waide, President & CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank said:
“A growing number of college students across the country face food insecurity. The costs of higher education continue to grow while prices for food, housing and other basic needs remain at elevated levels. When college students are unable to access enough food to live an active, healthy life, they can often face the life-altering decision of needing to drop out of school so that they can afford to eat. This is particularly true for non-traditional students and for students of color. It is in the best interest of our community and country to give students the support they need to stay in school. For this reason, Congress should streamline SNAP eligibility and enrollment by removing administrative hurdles that impede access to the program for college students who face barriers. Congresswoman Williams’ bill will help ensure these students can access SNAP benefits as they work towards their degrees and pursue better futures for themselves and their families.”
Click here to read the text of the OHH SNAP Act.
Congresswoman Nikema Williams proudly serves Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District on the exclusive Financial Services Committee. She is a champion of voting rights and builds on the Fifth District’s legacy as the cradle of the civil rights movement as co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Congresswoman Williams is committed to closing the racial wealth gap and ensuring the promise of America for all–regardless of your ZIP code or bank account.