The link between learning and adequate nutrition is well established for K-12 students. But in higher education, hunger remains largely hidden and misunderstood.
FFLC is working with the University of Oregon to raise awareness and find innovative solutions to address hunger on campus.
“The University of Oregon recognizes the importance of proper nutrition and that having enough food contributes to [a student’s] academic success,” said Kris Winter, UO Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.
“The UO has made so much progress in such a short amount of time,” said FFLC Community Engagement and Advocacy Coordinator Kara Smith, who is advocating for students at the state level. But barriers to college student food security remain. Access to SNAP for SNAP-eligible college students remains difficult and widely underutilized.
Eligibility rules for SNAP and other assistance programs are based on outdated assumptions of who a college student is, such as the notion that most college students attend four-year colleges with parental support. Three out of four students defy traditional stereotypes. Only 13% of students live on college campuses, half attend community colleges. One in four students is a parent juggling child care responsibilities with class assignments and 75% work while in school, including a significant number who work full-time.
Many students in Oregon are eligible for SNAP but aren’t participating. Of the 220,000 undergraduate students in Oregon, 47,000 are under 130% of the federal poverty level and working 20 or more hours a week. It’s estimated that 72% of this population qualify for SNAP but are not enrolled. That’s an estimated $51 million federal funds left on the table that could help students succeed in classes and boost local economies.