Buckeye Food Alliance isn't alone.

In late December, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published a 62-page report detailing food insecurity on college campuses nationally. While Buckeye Food Alliance remains the only on-campus pantry at Ohio State, we are not the only resource for food insecure students.

Over 3.3 million students were eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP in 2016, according to the GAO. But less than half of those students said they had participated.

At about 65% of colleges, the GAO contacted, “college officials and students said that they were unfamiliar with or did not fully understand” the SNAP eligibility requirements.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website says any able-bodied student, between the ages of 18 and 49, who is enrolled at least half-time in a higher education institution cannot use SNAP. There are exceptions, though. If a student is participating in any State or Federal Work Study programs, they might qualify for SNAP. Or, if the student works more than 20 hours a week, they might be eligible for SNAP benefits. To learn more about other exceptions, visit the USDA’s Eligibility page.

The GAO recommended to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, that the FNS should make more information available to states and colleges on how students can access SNAP.

Food insecurity disproportionately affects low income students. These students usually have at least a second risk factor such as having a single-parent or being the first generation to go to college.

At Buckeye Food Alliance, we have served graduate students, undergrads, a student who’s basement flooded—ruining their dry pantry, students between jobs, and a student who lost their wallet (and their BuckID).

If you yourself, or someone you know, is struggling with food insecurity, BFA is open every week. Our up-to-date pantry hours can be found on our website.

To learn more about SNAP benefits visit the FNS website. The USDA also provides a “pre-screening tool.” This is a good way to judge whether you qualify for SNAP benefits.

Jack Long