Ohio University

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program an option for students who may need help paying for groceries

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program an option for students who may need help paying for groceries

Ohio University’s Office of the Dean of Students will help link students to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal program that provides a monthly supplement for purchasing food to those whose budget cannot fulfill all their basic needs.

Students can fill out the online application at https://benefits.ohio.gov/ to determine if they are eligible. Staff in the Dean of Students office are also available to assist with questions or help providing necessary documentation. Students interested in assistance applying for SNAP can email foodpantry@ohio.edu.

“The University recognizes that some of our students are food insecure,” Fahl said. “This is one way we can help solve the problem in addition to our meal bank and food pantry.”

Fahl said she wants to connect students to the program because many students are not aware of the program or that they might be eligible for it. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 57% of students who are eligible for SNAP do not apply to receive the benefits, which can be used to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.

“[SNAP] can actually help to keep money in [students’] pockets if they use the benefits to purchase groceries,” Fahl said. “If you’re saving $100 a month in food, that $100 can go toward other needs, for example, purchasing a textbook.”

Students must meet income and asset criteria in order to be eligible. To learn more, visit the FAQs on the Bobcats Helping Bobcats page.

In addition to these guidelines, students must also qualify for one of the criteria below to receive the benefits:

  • Works for pay at least 20 hours per week.
  • Receives, been awarded or anticipates any amount of federal or state work-study for which the minimum is one hour per week.
  • Cares for a child under 6 years old.
  • Cares for a child 6-11 years old as a single parent while enrolled full-time or unable to obtain childcare.
  • Receives Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits.
  • Unable to work because of a disability.
  • Under the age of 18 or older than 50.

If a student is uncertain if they are eligible, they can check at https://benefits.ohio.gov/ or call the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services at 614-466-4815. Additionally, students can ask for help for filling out the paperwork by emailing foodpantry@ohio.edu.

“I’m hopeful that students will be willing to apply,” Fahl said. “I believe it will make a difference in their daily lives to have access to more resources.”

The eligible students will then submit the required documents for verification, such as pay stubs, verification of employment, Social Security Number, household income and others. The paperwork process can take from 30-60 days.

“I think sometimes the complexity of programs like this, whether it’s the eligibility requirement or the application process, can be a discouragement for students to apply. We hope that by offering support and resources to do so more students will take advantage of this program,” said Fahl.

When the fall semester begins, Fahl plans to promote the program by putting up flyers in the food pantry and advertising it on digital screens across campus.

“Our hope is that folks that are using the pantry can begin the conversation about SNAP when they are given the opportunity to inquire about their eligibility,” Fahl said.

Fahl also said that the Office of Dean of Students plans to collaborate with the School of Social Work in the fall to plan a day-long event where students can receive help filling out the application for SNAP.

“We want students to have food,” Fahl said. “That’s a basic human right. So having access to this federal program will allow students to eat more nutritiously and help with issues surrounding hunger.”

Students can use their SNAP benefits on campus in Jefferson Marketplace, as well. More information about the program can be found at https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program