September 26, 2023

Wyden, Bonamici, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Increase Food Security for Oregon College Students

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici today announced they introduced legislation that would help college students in Oregon and nationwide experiencing food insecurity have easier access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

“Being a college student is tough enough without having to also study federal rules and regulations to combat hunger,” Wyden said. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce legislation that makes SNAP benefits more accessible for students by eliminating common hurdles students face when applying for SNAP. I’ll fight hard in the Senate to get the Opportunity to Address College Hunger Act signed into law.”

“I accessed food assistance when I was in college; without it, I would not have had enough to eat,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “No college student should feel stigmatized for accessing food assistance when they need help. Many students have told me about the challenges they face in putting food on the table for themselves and their families while in school. The Opportunity to Address College Hunger Act will help students overcome barriers to the SNAP program and help students get the nutritious meals they need to thrive.”

Millions of eligible college students face barriers to enrollment including the complex application process and a lack of information from their institutions. Roughly 60% of students potentially eligible for SNAP do not receive benefits — mainly due to a lack of awareness, stigma, or burdensome application requirements.

The Opportunity to Address College Hunger Act would require colleges and universities to notify students participating in a state or federally financed work-study program of their potential eligibility for SNAP benefits, and provide these students with official eligibility documentation to help eliminate common hurdles that students face when applying for SNAP benefits. The bill would also require the U.S. Education Department and USDA to guide states and institutions of higher education on best practices to increase outreach to students potentially eligible for SNAP.

The legislation was led by U.S. Senator Alex Padilla in the Senate and Bonamici in the House. Alongside Wyden, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, D-Colo., John Fetterman, D-Pa., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Jeanne Shaheen D-N.H., and Peter Welch D-Vt.

The legislation was endorsed by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Feeding America, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, Bread for the World, Center for Law and Social Policy, Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Education Trust, Swipe Out Hunger, First Focus Campaign for Children, and Child and Student Nutrition Alliance.

The text of the bill is here.

This summer, Wyden introduced legislation that would ensure working students ages 17 to 21 can continue to receive their families’ SNAP benefits.