Study identifies how to help college students access the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

May 16, 2022

Ensuring college students have access to nutritious and affordable food is critical to support their health and academic success. However, rates of food insecurity amongst college students—on average 43%—is three times higher than adults in the US. University of California researchers have identified ways to support college students in gaining access to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—known as CalFresh in California­—including having county staff present on college campuses to support SNAP enrollment and ensuring campus staff have strong relationships with county SNAP agencies. Researchers also identified inconsistent student SNAP eligibility information and procedures across county offices as a common barrier for students to access SNAP benefits. These themes were identified through in-depth interviews with twenty-one key informants, including staff from the UC on-campus Basic Needs Centers, campus financial aid offices, county agencies, and food banks. The findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior by Erin Esaryk and Lorrene Ritchie of the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, Laurel Moffat of Washington State University Extension, and principal investigator Suzanna Martinez of UC San Francisco Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. The study was funded by California State Legislature to the UC system for addressing students' basic needs as part of the UC Basic Needs Initiative.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement
By Erin Esaryk