In 2012, nearly 46,609,000 Americans bought food with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Food Stamps, as the program is more commonly called, supplied meals to 14 percent of the nation’s households in 2012.
Started in the late 1930s, the Food Stamp Program was created to distribute surplus food supplies purchased by the federal government in an effort to promote the nation’s agricultural growth.
Students facing hardships may apply for SNAP benefits, but they must meet standards set by the state of Idaho.
“Basically, they have to meet all of the eligibility requirements they would have to meet if they weren’t a student,” said Idaho Health and Welfare Public Information Manager Tom Shanahan.
This includes a monthly income maximum of $1,211 for a single household member.
“They also can’t have assets over $5,000,” said Shanahan. “And if they have a savings account, that’s an asset.”
A single vehicle is not counted by the state as an asset, but any additional automobiles or recreation vehicles are.
“Let’s say they have a motorcycle or an ATV too, those would be counted as assets,” said Shanahan.
After these initial requirements are met, students who are currently receiving financial aid must either be enrolled in a federal work-study program, or meet a minimum number of work hours with a private employer.
“They don’t have to work in work-study, they can be employed outside,” said Shanahan. “But if they are employed by a private employer, they have to work a minimum of 80 hours a month and be paid for it.”
Self-employed students must work 80 hours a month and show they have been earning at least the equivalent of federal minimum wage to qualify for SNAP benefits.
“You can’t get by saying ‘I didn’t make any money, I was self employed’,” said Shanahan.
Parents enrolled at Boise State are given exceptions to the financial work requirements depending on their family circumstances.
“Someone could meet eligibility criteria if they are caring for a child under the age of six or if they are a single parent of a child under 12,” said Shanahan. “In other words, they don’t have anyone else to watch the child.”
Under these circumstances, parents must be living without the assistance of additional family members.
“So if you live with grandma and grandpa and they are watching them, that won’t apply, you need to work,” said Shanahan.
Boise State senior psychology major Alex Bennett thinks the program should be used only by those who are truly struggling to put dinner on the table.
“I can see both sides, why it should and why it shouldn’t be available to students,” said Bennett. “My parents won’t let me and my friends starve, but other students aren’t that fortunate.”