Congressman Jimmy Gomez Introduces Legislation to Fight Hunger on College Campuses During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), along with Congressmen Josh Harder (CA-10) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), introduced the Emergency Ensuring Access to SNAP (EATS) Act to ensure college students would not be rendered ineligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on the basis of their student status during this national emergency.

Research shows that hunger is a significant issue facing college students, especially among low-income and first-generation students. However, under SNAP’s rules, the majority of college students are ineligible for this essential assistance. The Emergency EATS Act would ensure that students otherwise eligible for the program could access SNAP for the duration of the public health emergency.

“Enrollment in college should never be a barrier to accessing basic necessities like healthy meals, particularly in the midst of an unprecedented national health crisis,” said Congressman Gomez. “Our country’s students need all the help they can right now, and those who otherwise qualify for SNAP benefits shouldn’t have to make the impossible decision between prioritizing their education and their health. Through the Emergency EATS Act, we can clear the way for college students to access SNAP and help them forge a future worthy of their highest aspirations.”

“People pursuing their college degrees are in an untenable situation during the Coronavirus crisis – they can’t work or physically go to school and yet they were completely left out of the stimulus program. We have to make sure our neighbors who are in school but now struggling to get by can put food on the table,” said Congressman Harder. “This bill will make sure college students qualify for CalFresh even while enrolled in school – which should have been done a long time ago.”   

“As community members on the Central Coast work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including complying with life-saving social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many are struggling to afford food.  Although we increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh in California, in the CARES Act, certain college students are still not allowed to participate in the program due to limitations in existing law,” said Congressman Panetta. “The Emergency Ensuring Access to SNAP (EATS) Act would ensure that, during this unprecedent national pandemic, college students can utilize CalFresh and put food on the table.”

“Few people have been more impacted economically by the COVID-19 public health crisis than low-income, first generation college students,” said Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “For these students, SNAP is an essential support that will not only help them prevent hunger, but also help them to achieve their goals of graduating college and exiting poverty for good. The SNAP Student Rule undermines the program’s ability to achieve these goals under normal conditions, but especially during periods of high unemployment. We are grateful for the introduction of H.R. 6565 and hopeful that Congress will include provisions to suspend the SNAP student rule in the next COVID bill.”

The Emergency EATS Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (Il-04), Darren Soto (FL-09), Nanette Diaz Barragan (CA-44), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), Linda Sanchez (CA-38), James McGovern (MA-02), Frederica Wilson (FL–24), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Joseph Kennedy, III (MA-04), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), TJ Cox (CA-21), Steven Cohen (TN-09), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Adam Smith (WA-09), Gwen Moore (WI-04), and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47).

Congressmen Gomez and Harder have previously introduced the Ensuring Access to SNAP (EATS) Act (H.R. 4297) earlier this year and was endorsed by the following organizations:

Alameda County Community Food Bank
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Associated Students of the University of California
California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND) – Los Angeles Division
California Association of Food Banks
California Food Policy Advocates
California Homeless Youth Project
California Hunger Action Coalition
California Work & Family Coalition
Center for Civil Justice
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for Public Policy Priorities
Child Care Law Center
Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) of California
Eliot CHS Inc.
End Hunger Connecticut!
Equal Rights Advocates (ERA)
Faith Action Network of WA State
Feeding San Diego
Florida Legal Services, Inc.
Food Bank of Alaska
Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano
Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Food for People
Food Lifeline
Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice
Higher Learning Advocates
Hunger Action LA
Hunger Free Colorado
Hunger Free Vermont
Hunger Task Force
Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles
Kentucky Equal Justice Center
The Kohala Center – Hawaii
Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN)
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Maternal and Child Health Access
MAZON | A Jewish Response to Hunger
Michigan League for PUblic
Mississippi Center for Justice
National Alliance on Mental Illness, Texas
National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – California
National Education Association
New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty
Northwest Harvest
OC Food Bank
Oregon Food Bank
Parent Voices – California
Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon
Pasadena City College
Rise Together
San Diego Food Bank
San Diego Hunger Coalition
San Francisco & Marin Food Bank
SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center
Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County
Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County
Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley
SEIU – California
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Swipe Out Hunger
The Tennessee Justice Center
Three Square Food Bank
Tufts Friedman Food Policy Action Council
The University of California
University of California Graduate and Professional Council
University of California Student Association
Vermont Legal Aid, Inc.
Virginia Poverty Law Center
Voices for Progress
Washington Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition
Western Center on Law & Poverty
Women Foundation of California
Worcester County Food Bank Inc.
WORK EQUITY, California
Young Invincibles

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