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2018 Farm Bill aims to tighten SNAP requirements, cutting some from benefits

A change to SNAP benefits in the 2018 Farm Bill could affect the food security of college students. Credit: Lantern file photo

More than 42 million Americans might find themselves in trouble if the 2018 Farm Bill passes, and more could join them.

The newest form of one of America’s largest pieces of legislation currently calls for changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as food stamps.

The 2018 plan formulated by Republicans in the House of Representatives outlines how funds will be allocated between SNAP, farmers and various development programs. Currently, 80 percent of the bill is dedicated to nutrition.

Policy changes will include raising the minimum number of hours that beneficiaries must be working, or part of a job training program, from 20 per week to 25 by 2026.

While food assistance programs might not have been associated with college students in the past, 36 percent of students at 66 surveyed colleges and universities are not getting enough to eat, according to a study in April by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab based on the Department of Agriculture’s assessment for measuring hunger.

For those college students who do receive SNAP benefits, the changes could present difficulties.

“I actually didn’t know how many college students were on SNAP,” said Corey Keyser, a third-year philosophy and neuroscience student and president of Best Food Forward at OSU, a student organization dedicated to fighting food insecurity. “I don’t know any students who get benefits at OSU, at least of the people we serve. But because college students are so food insecure, any tightening of the requirements for SNAP could affect a lot of people.”

The 2018 Farm Bill has the potential to impact college students in alternate ways as well. The remaining 20 percent of its spending details farming and development programs that affect the way food is produced in the United States.

Brian Snyder, the executive director of the Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation at Ohio State, hopes for a more sustainable future for both farmers and consumers through the Farm Bill.

“With the federal government making changes to their food assistance programs, if they made benefits redeemable at farmers’ markets and other more sustainable sources, it could move things in the right direction for both young people and small farmers,” Snyder said.

As it stands now the House and Senate have passed seperate versions of the bill and will have to come to an agreement in a conference committee on a final version to send to President Donald Trump before it expires on Sept. 30.

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