PHOTOS: Eating on less than $20 per week

Print More

Since October 2015, Ingham County has in total 21,845 cases for the Food Assistance Program (FAP) per the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services annual report. Almost five million dollars in payments are used for FAP in the county. Since 2011 college students have had a harder time than even gaining food assistance.

The relationship between college students and food assistance has been very scarce since the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) policy requirements changed and was then adapted by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in 2011. This has affected various college students when it comes to paying for constant groceries, especially student Cahlan Gillard-Tucker, a junior at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

He opened up and showed a day in the grocery store for him — from budgeting, coupon cutting, and hoping to find sale sides in every aisle. Groceries can get quite expensive for Tucker when you only have less than $20 in assistance to work with.

“I tried to re-apply but it was like they don’t like college students or something,” said Cahlan Gillard-Tucker a junior at Grand Valley State University living in East Lansing, Michigan for the summer. Tucker has had his past troubles with have food assistance as a college student. Tucker has been a EBT, Electronic Benefit Transfer another term for food assistance, holder for only a short year but the amount he is provided through Ingham County isn’t enough.

Since October 2015, Ingham County has in total 21,845 cases for the Food Assistance Program (FAP) per the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services annual report. Almost $5 million in payments are used for FAP in the county. Since 2011 college students have had a harder time than even gaining food assistance.

“Being a full-time student and trying to meet the requirements is harder than it looks,” said Tucker, “I mean who can survive on eighteen dollars a month.” Tucker says he was approved for only $18 a month on his EBT card. Compared to his previous application denials anything can help said Tucker.

In 2011 a policy on food assistance was passed in Michigan to provide stricter requirements to limit the amount of college students EBT card holders. “The state had exempted college students from the federal requirements for food assistance and when the new administration took over there was a feeling that we need to abide by the federal requirements that are in place,” said Bob Wheaton, Communications Manager, Public Information Officer for MDHHS.

“Primarily work requirements for individuals who receive food assistance,” said Wheaton. Stated from State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services assistance policy, To qualify under this provision the student must be approved for work study during the school term and anticipate actually working during that time.

Working 20 hours during a school year is harder than it looks, says Tucker. He currently is in search of work while living in Ingham County for the summer to keep his food assistance. Confirmed by Wheaton, there are also no accommodations in applications when students do not have parental assistance or who live-off campus from university assistance.