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Michigan expands food assistance to include low-income college students during the pandemic

Posted at 8:45 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 08:45:37-04

MSU CAMPUS — College students across the state who have been struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic are getting some good news.

A 2018 survey conducted at Michigan State University found around two thousand Spartans battled food insecurity in 2018 alone. Now, in a world hard-hit by a pandemic, the state of Michigan is making it easier for students to qualify for food assistance.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday that Michigan will be temporarily changing eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to include low-income college students.

Nicole Edmonds is the director of the MSU Food Bank which serves thousands of students each academic year.

MSU Food Bank

“We were finding before this new change of the rules, that so many students who utilize our service, were just not eligible for SNAP benefits just because of the work requirements or the other hoops to jump through,” Edmonds said.

Under the temporary change, students are eligible for snap benefits if their families are unable to contribute to their college costs or if they qualify for a federal work-study program on campus.

Prior to this change, students were required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week or meet certain exemptions to receive aid.

“We're seeing a shift in more of the nontraditional student population, meaning that maybe they're first-generation college student, and they are relying on financial aid, or maybe they're supporting a family during their college education. Or maybe it's a career change. And so, for all these reasons, we're seeing more need for basic needs, security, support,” Edmonds said.

SNAP benefits

The update to SNAP benefits makes 200,000 more Michiganders eligible for benefits that could be as much as 234 dollars per month for college students that buy and prepare their food themselves.

“When students realize that they don't have to struggle through college, like living off of very cheap commodity food items, and that there are other resources, it's very helpful to support them academically,” Edmonds said.

To apply for assistance, students can head over to the MI Bridges website. Once approved, you’ll receive bridge cards that can be used at snap retailers across the state.

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