Food for thought

Food assistance benefits are becoming more common with college students.

Daily Editorial Board

Nearly 47 million Americans rely on federal food assistance benefits. Though we often think the people who rely on food stamps are from low-income families or a specific walk of life, college students are increasingly using food stamps to supplement their income.

According to a November Washington Post piece, from a report by the Department of Social Services, Virginia spent $30 million in food assistance benefits to college students in 2011 — a huge spike from just four years prior. Higher tuition rates and expensive housing options, among other costs, are pushing students to use these programs.

In order to cover the costs of college — rent, books and food, without tuition — full-time students often work low-income jobs, which may qualify them for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,

For students, it is easy to apply for SNAP benefits, and many universities will include them in students’ financial aid packages.

These days, college students are cutting costs across the board. We rent textbooks or borrow them from friends. We rent homes with less-than-ideal living conditions. It follows reason that college students would also use food stamps if they qualified.

And students shouldn’t feel ashamed for using the program — all taxpayers buy into the program and can use it when they need it. College students should not simply accept their living conditions, especially if it is affecting their health. College can be financially troubling, and while students should make sound financial decisions, applying for SNAP benefits should be a consideration to all students who qualify.