By Allison Dubrow
Due to a change in federal policy, eligibility requirements for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) have changed, allowing thousands of more CUNY students the ability to apply. SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a program that helps recipients buy food at many stores through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.
In regards to who receives SNAP, “it’s a mix of people who are struggling financially or trying to live on a small income or are currently unemployed,” said the Secretary Tom Vilsack of the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program.
Congress worked together to pass a new bill that deals with food support, and they have changed the work requirement necessary to qualify for SNAP for people aged 50-54. However, people who experience homelessness regardless of their age, veterans, and people who are 18-24 years old that have aged out of foster care would be exempt from having to meet the new work requirements, according to NPR. These changes are designated to terminate in 2030.
This comes after Congress decided to end the pandemic emergency allotments that gave “SNAP households an additional $95 in benefits or an additional benefit valued up to the maximum benefit for their household size, whichever value is greater,” according to the USDA. The emergency allotments were used to help individuals and families who were struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now that the allotments are no longer being handed out, Congress has shifted its focus to changing the necessary work requirements in order to qualify for SNAP. The changes in these requirements within the debt ceiling package are going to increase federal spending by $2.1 billion for the 2023-2033 period, as stated by the Congressional Budget Office.
SNAP has helped many CUNY students, but there are many more who are eligible and do not even know it. The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute stated that “Based on just the income and legal status requirements, 41% of all surveyed students would be eligible for SNAP but slightly less than half of these students – 20% – are enrolled.”
CUNY students are eligible for SNAP if they have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0, or if they partake in federal work study. This expansion of SNAP eligibility allows students who are between the ages of 18-49 and are enrolled part-time or full-time in a Career and Technical Education program of study to meet the requirements for SNAP.
For more information to see if you qualify for SNAP, please visit: https://www.cuny.edu/current-students/student-affairs/student-services/snap/.