The GAO agreed to conduct the study after a request submitted by four Democratic U.S. senators, including Senators Elizabeth Warren (MA), Ed Markey (MA), Patty Murray (WA), and Debbie Stabenow (MI). As part of the study, the GAO reviewed 31 local studies that had previously been conducted from around the country. In doing so, the GAO found that almost 2 million at-risk students who were potentially eligible for SNAP were not currently receiving benefits.
Echoing what CLP site leaders, professors, and students at colleges across the country have long known, the report stated that “increasing evidence indicates that some college students are experiencing food insecurity, which can negatively impact their academic success.” The report estimates that as many as a third of college students are struggling in this way, and blames confusing rules for enrolling in the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for much of the problem. The report’s main policy suggestions are to clarify this process.
Senator Murray also recommends addressing “all of the costs” that come along with college, including food and housing. “As the costs of college continue to climb, it’s clear that students are struggling to afford more than just tuition, many are unable to afford textbooks, housing, transportation, childcare and even food,” said Senator Murray via Twitter
. “We must do more to ensure students have enough to eat.”