As the amount of time it takes to receive food stamps increases, N.C. State’s Feed the Pack Food Pantry becomes an on-campus resource for an increasing number of students experiencing food insecurity.
Last year, after applying for the food stamp program, students would receive notice of their status in either a month or two, According to Sarah Wright, a member of the advisory board for Feed the Pack and a tutor coordinator for TRIO, a federal outreach program.
Recently, however, there has been no common wait-time period, and it has become longer than usual.
A potential reason for the backlog is the recent change in the system used to apply for food stamps. The online process that was specific to food stamps assistance has transitioned from being an independent procedure to being combined with Medicaid, according to Wright.
“We had several students that were not approved in a timely manner from when their application was submitted,” Wright said. “Obviously, that was a tough time for those students to manage, but what was nice is that they were back-paid from the time that their applications should have been approved.”
The number of food pantries on college campuses has increased from four in since 2008 to 121, according to the Michigan State University Student Food Bank, The Washington Post reported.
Feed the Pack Food Pantry, located in Harrelson Hall 379, was founded in 2012.
Wright said that although many students qualify for food stamps, only few are aware of the opportunity and receive the benefits.
In order to qualify for food stamps, a college student must have a work-study job or work an average of twenty hours a week, Wright said.
The application process to qualify for food stamps can be completed online. In addition to providing evidence for assistance. Applicants must also have bills that provide proof the applicant pays for rent and other utilities, Wright said.
“The good side of the benefits of food stamps is that it is one of the quickest programs to be able to interject assistance for a person or a family who is struggling,” Wright said. “The average student at N.C. State receives an average of $160 a month if they qualify for food stamps.”
Wright said she did not have exact numbers regarding the increase in the number of students applying for food stamps. Ho wever, the recent increase in people requesting food stamps mirrors the increase in unemployment, Wright said.
Amanda Dango, Inventory Coordinator and Community Outreach Director for Feed the Pack and junior in mechanical engineering, was recently named Executive Director and will assume the role in May.
Dango said her work with Feed the Pack has been a very rewarding experience.
“I am glad that Feed the Pack is a resource that students can utilize while this unfortunate backlog with applications is occurring,” Dango said. “We were set up to be an emergency assistance food pantry for N.C. State, and this issue is a perfect example of our mission to serve.”