MAZON Reacts to GAO Report on Food Insecurity Among College Students
Earlier today, four U.S. Senators jointly released a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found a shocking 39 percent of all undergraduates in the nation—almost 7.3 million—are at risk of hunger because of low household income. GAO also found that among potentially SNAP eligible low-income students with at least one additional risk factor for food insecurity, an astounding 57 percent did not report participating in SNAP in 2016. MAZON hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill to present the reports findings and discuss approaches to improving students’ access to SNAP.
The GAO report is the first time a federal agency has confirmed the problem of hunger and food insecurity among college students. The GAO conducted the report at the request of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray, Senate Agriculture Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Ed Markey. Senator Murray said, “This report confirms that food insecurity is a widespread issue on our nation’s campuses and that there’s a lot of work to do to ensure students are getting enough to eat.”
Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, today issued the following statement in response to the report’s findings:
“Today’s report confirms what we have long seen and heard on college campuses across our country: that food insecurity afflicts an increasing number of college students, preventing them from completing degrees and credentials because they are too hungry to learn.
“While some campuses have implemented short-term responses—like the more than 656 food pantries that have sprung up on college campuses in recent years—these are short-term, stop-gap measures at best. We know from our experience that federal nutrition assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) remain the most effective and efficient response. If the majority (57 percent) of college students at risk of food insecurity are not accessing SNAP, then it is clear that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has a responsibility to be more transparent and proactive in outreach efforts to ensure that college students have access to critical nutrition assistance.
“MAZON has been a leading voice in highlighting this growing problem nationally and locally, and we are committed to working with FNS to identify, pursue and implement solutions so that all students can succeed.”