College students may be eligible for SNAP benefits

By: Jenna Thomas

On April 6, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank partnered with Lift Up Vikes! to host a webinar on the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)―formerly known as food stamps. 

Before the expansion, it limited eligibility to specific groups, including students:

  • Younger than 18 and older than 49.
  • Attending school less than half-time.
  • Have a documented physical or mental disability.
  • Work on average at least 80 hours per month.
  • Care for a child under six years old, or under 12 years old if a single parent.

In March 2021, the federal government added two new eligibility categories. 

The two new flexibilities are: 

  1. Students who are eligible to take part in a work-study program can now qualify for SNAP, even if they aren’t taking part now. 
  2. Students with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 according to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Cleveland State University students of any age that fall into either of these categories may now apply for SNAP benefits. This expansion comes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is not likely to be permanent. 

Besides distributing free food, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank advocates for increased public benefits and does significant outreach to sign people up for various public benefits, including SNAP. 

“SNAP provides nine meals for every one meal that a food bank provides. SNAP is the Federal Government’s largest safety net to address hunger,” says Lisa Laditka, Help Center Manager at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. 

For students that are interested in starting the application process and are not sure where to begin, the GCFB Help Center is available to help. You can reach the help center at (216)738-206. 

Students experiencing hunger-whether you are or are not eligible for SNAP- may be eligible to receive food from Cleveland State’s own food pantry or other GCFB-run pantries or food distribution sites. To learn more, visit Lift Up Vikes and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank websites.