Legislation adopted this spring aims to chip away at the growing problem of college student hunger in Illinois.
Under that measure, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission could soon have to notify students of their eligibility for food assistance.
The measure would target people eligible for the Monetary Assistance Program, which provides grants for lower-income students.
They would have to be told they might be eligible for the food aid know as SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
As the cost of college has risen, so student hunger, says Mercedes Gonzalez of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
“A lot of college students don’t think they would qualify (for SNAP benefits). We’re seeing such high rates of hunger on campus and students just don’t know they can qualify, and that’s a real problem we need to tackle.’’
She says studies have shown that about half of students face food insecurity
Lynne Baker, who is spokeswoman for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, agreed that most students eligible for food aid don’t know it.
About 18 percent of students are eligible for food assistance, known as SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. But according to a study cited by Baker, only 3 percent are aware.
“Hopefully when they get this language in their award letter, that will at least help get the word out and increase awareness that SNAP exists, and there’s a possibility they might be able to get assistance,” she said.
The legislation still has to be approved by Gov .J.B. Pritzker. If he signs it, notification would beincluded in MAP award grant letters sent out beginning in the fall semester of 2020.