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More College Students Could Be Facing Hunger This School Year

Many college students in Utah will be heading back to class later this month. Because of the traditional low-paying jobs held by college students, there is growing concern nationwide that students won’t have enough to eat with limited financial resources.

Many college students in Utah will be heading back to class later this month. Because of the traditional low-paying jobs held by college students, there is growing concern nationwide that students won’t have enough to eat with their limited financial resources.

More than one-third of college students in the United States are having trouble getting enough food, according to Utahns Against Hunger. Another survey of Utah State University students found similar levels of hunger on campus.

Gina Cornia, the executive director of Utahns Against Hunger, said those numbers show a more serious problem than the “starving college student” stereotype.

"Between tuition and books and transportation and all of those things, that food budget becomes the thing that’s the most flexible," Cornia said.

Utahns Against Hunger offers an online toolkit for college campuses looking to help students access healthy meals. It includes information on government food assistance and encourages establishing hunger-fighting advocacy programs on campus.

The University of Utah, Utah State University, Salt Lake Community College and other higher-education schools across the state now offer on-campus food pantries for students in need. Cornia said those resources are important because people usually have to work an average of 20-hours a week to qualify for SNAP benefits or food stamps.

"A young person coming right out of high school, they’re single, and in school full-time,” Cornia said, “they’re most likely not eligible for SNAP."

Cornia said work-study jobs on campus do count toward SNAP eligibility, and students who have young children may be eligible for additional benefits.