Hirono to USDA: College Students Need Access to SNAP During Pandemic
US Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaiʻi) led an effort with Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urging the US Department of Agriculture to immediately reconsider its denial of waiver requests and allow college students continued access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits if they have become unemployed due to the pandemic.
In their letter, the Senators noted that many college students were already food insecure before the pandemic, and that the widespread closures of colleges have further disrupted the support systems students might need.
Citing the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, 29 states and the District of Columbia requested waivers to permit students to receive SNAP benefits even if they lose their employment due to COVID-19.
“It is important to continue to ensure that the needs of vulnerable populations, including college students, do not go unaddressed in this time of extreme and unpredictable economic conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a number of weaknesses at various points in our food supply chain, and we should be responding by taking actions that increase access to food security for those who are currently, or are on the verge of being, food insecure,” the Senators wrote.
The Senators continued, “We request USDA immediately reconsider the sweeping denial of waiver requests seeking the temporary waiving of the work requirement imposed on college students and allow students who lose their employment to continue to receive SNAP benefits for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The letter can be found here.