Food Stamp Eligibility: What About Florida Students?
Updated: May 23
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamp Program to help provide food assistance to eligible low-income families and individuals. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration proposed administrative rule changes to the SNAP program in an effort to encourage people to work if they’re able to do so. These changes, one of which was set to go into effect at the beginning of last month on April 1st, were expected to strip food assistance from an estimated 700,000 unemployed people throughout the nation.
However, due to the pandemic, the new regulations were temporarily blocked and instead of tightening food assistance eligibility, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Among other Coronavirus relief efforts, the legislation allows state flexibility in waiving work requirements for food assistance through the SNAP program. These adjusted requirements hope to accommodate for the recent increase in unemployment applications as people lose their jobs due to the unprecedented challenges presented by executive orders aiming to limit community spread of the disease.
Governor DeSantis has already directed the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to waive work requirements for families and individuals participating in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as well as the SNAP program. The work requirements for these programs were created to encourage productivity and self sufficiency for able-bodied adults. As such, the program has a list of general work requirements in addition to requirements for Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) that must be met to receive and continue receiving food assistance benefits.
Eligibility for Florida Students
While the directives to waive work requirements waive general work requirements and those for ABAWDs, students must meet a separate set of eligibility requirements in order to receive food assistance. A Florida DCF official confirmed via phone that generally waived work requirements and those waived for ABAWDs do not apply towards the specific work requirements for college students. To clarify, because students are exempt from needing to meet general or ABAWD eligibility requirements, they must meet a separate set of eligibility requirements to receive food assistance; the work requirements for students have not yet been waived, according to the Florida DCF official. As of right now, there has been no word as to if or when work requirements will be waived for students enrolled in the SNAP program. This means that Florida students ages 18 to 49 who are enrolled at least part-time, must either be working at least 80 hours a month or meet the other five criteria to remain eligible for Food Stamp benefits.
Throughout the efforts being made to aid Florida’s families and individuals during this time, many students throughout Florida are also experiencing hardship due to unprecedented circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. With executive orders altering business operations with the intention of limiting community spread, many students now find themselves out of work or even seeking financial assistance as they try to maintain stability under a set of uncertain and challenging circumstances. These announced changes to the SNAP program affect FSU students who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic’s toll on the economy and, as such, may have their food assistance benefits jeopardized or may be unable to apply for benefits as they are no longer eligible.
Director of Policy Analysis
Jaylen is a class of 2022 Florida State undergraduate student from West Palm Beach, Florida. He is pursuing his B.A. in International Affairs with Economics & Political Science concentrations and a Social Entrepreneurship minor.