Democrat presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a bill alongside Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL) Wednesday aimed at combatting “hunger” among students on college campuses.
The College Student Hunger Act of 2019 addresses “food-insecurity” by granting greater access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often dubbed “food stamps,” to low income college students. The bill is largely based on findings from a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. However, the study admitted that the findings should not be used as a broad brush.
Our review of 31 studies provided some information regarding food insecurity among college students, but all of the studies have limitations and none provide estimates of food insecurity for this population in general. Estimates of food insecurity among college students included in the studies we reviewed ranged from 9 percent to well over 50 percent, with 22 of these of 31 studies estimating food insecurity rates of over 30 percent. These results reflect the studies’ different samples and methods, and the estimates from the studies included in our review are not generalizable to the college student population as a whole. None of these studies are based on a sufficiently large or diverse random sample of college students to constitute a representative study.
Despite that, Warren and Lawson asserted that more than 30 percent of students face food insecurity and cited findings that revealed that “almost 2 million at-risk students who are potentially eligible for SNAP did not receive benefits in 2016.”
Their bill expands exceptions for part-time and full-time students to receive SNAP benefits “if they receive the maximum Pell Grant award, are in foster care, a veteran of the Armed Forces, or are classified as an unaccompanied youth who is homeless.”
In addition to increasing eligibility, the bill focuses on increasing “outreach to eligible students” and “awareness of student eligibility.”
“As more and more students struggle to afford colleges without a mountain of student loan debt, nearly one-in-three college students cannot even afford basic necessities like food,” Warren said in a statement.
“Our bill will ensure students have the support they need as they work hard toward a better future without going hungry,” she added.
Lawson said food insecurity is a “real concern” for many college students. She cited rising tuition costs.
“The significant increase in college tuition over the last decade has forced students to make a choice between buying food or paying for books and housing expenditures,” Lawson said.
“This bill will help to relieve some of that financial burden for them. I am proud to work with Sen. Warren to introduce this critical piece of legislation,” he added.
Warren’s support for the bill does not come as a surprise, as the Democrat presidential candidate has focused a sizable portion of her campaign on promising to wipe out student debt and offering universal free college.
Breitbart News reported:
Warren’s plan, which would cost roughly $640 billion, would eliminate up to $50,000 in student debt for each person with less than $100,000 in household income. The Massachusetts senators’ plan would also lower college debt for those making incomes between $100,000 and $250,000 but at a more gradual rate. Americans with household income over $250,000 would not receive student debt relief.
Sen. Warren would then eliminate tuition and fees fro all two-year and four-year public colleges as a means to restructure the higher education system to ensure that Americans do not accumulate more college debt.
“We can address the student loan crisis and cancel debt for families that are struggling. We can provide truly universal free college,” Warren wrote in a Medium post.
“We can fix some of the structural problems that are preventing our higher education system from fairly serving lower-income students and students of color. We can make big structural change and create new opportunities for all Americans,” she added.