President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on March 11, extending increases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from July 1 to Sept. 30. The number of benefits will increase for those eligible as well.
With over a quarter of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, the end of the pandemic is seemingly in sight. But in its wake, the pandemic left many impoverished, with 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty in 2020. That number could rise to 150 million by the end of this year.
SNAP provides low-income households with the means to purchase food. This government-financed service gives recipients their benefits electronically through the Electronic Benefits Transfer system. The EBT system uses a card, much like a debit or gift card, to buy groceries, and money is transferred to the card monthly.
These cards can be used wherever EBT is accepted. According to iGeorgia Food Stamps, this includes over 246,000 grocery stores, select specialty stores, discount stores, gas stations and farmer’s markets. Select Kroger, Publix, Aldi, Walmart and CVS stores accept EBT as well.
Many college students never consider food stamps or SNAP as an option, but if eligible, they can use SNAP to take care of themselves, especially in challenging times.
According to iGeorgia Food stamps, students may be eligible for SNAP benefits if they fit in any of the following categories:
- participating in a work-study program financed by the state or federal government
- working at least 20 hours a week
- acting as the primary caretaker of a dependent under 6 years old
- a single parent enrolled as a full-time college student with a child under the age of 12.
Students are also eligible if they were placed in college through any of the following government programs:
Some exemptions do apply. If students are attending in a less than half-time capacity as defined by the school, they are ineligible. Students are also ineligible to receive benefits if they live in the dorms and receive over half of their meals from a meal plan.
However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 temporarily expanded student eligibility to new groups from January through the end of the public health emergency, according to the USDA website.
The new changes to student eligibility will be temporary and mean some previously ineligible students for SNAP benefits may now be eligible.
If eligible, the process for applying for SNAP and other government benefits can be done online through Georgia Gateway.