Updated: Mar 22
By Shahad Salman, Delilah Hernandez, & Amisha Chowdhury
Anabel’s Grocery is now accepting SNAP/EBT benefits (previously known as food stamps)! In collaboration with the Office of the Student Advocate (OSA), Anabel’s Grocery is furthering its commitment to food justice and accessible, affordable, nutritious, food by encouraging eligible students to apply for and utilize Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. OSA, led by a group of undergraduate students, offers students one-on-one support in navigating issues regarding housing, finance, Title IX, academics, and the Student Code of Conduct. OSA emphasizes case confidentiality and works diligently to connect students to the appropriate resources for their specific needs (contact info under FAQs).
Recently, OSA organized a workshop that helped 65+ Cornell undergraduate and graduate students enroll in SNAP. During the workshop, Tompkins County Case Workers worked individually with students to guide them through filling out the SNAP application and answer questions. In total, over the course of two informational workshops, OSA’s advocacy efforts have supported over 100+ Cornell students in enrolling in SNAP.
Students eligible for SNAP benefits are also likely to be eligible for NYS Medicaid. Enrollment in NYS Medicaid allows Cornell students to enroll in SHP+. SHP+ is offered at no-cost to students, and it eliminates the tuition costs of the Student Health Plan (SHP)*. OSA’s workshops and outreach supports students in enrolling in both NYS Medicaid and SNAP.
The Human Services Coalition helps students on an individual basis to apply to Medicaid and compare different health insurances. You can book an appointment with them here.
In 2019, only 43% of eligible college students were enrolled in SNAP(1). Historical context provides some insight on the under-enrollment in SNAP benefits. In dissent to the US Civil Rights movement and its gains, conservative politicians advocated to limit and cut many social welfare programs(2,3). Consequently, 75% of enrolled college students lost their food stamps eligibility because of restrictive 1980’s legislation(4). To garner support for their legislation, politicians unfairly painted students on food stamps as affluent, undeserving individuals who were just evading personal responsibility by depending on public government programs(3). This narrative antagonized and dismissed the millions of people who needed and actively used food stamps to meet their basic needs(8,9).
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity, which prompted an expansion of SNAP eligibility requirements for about 3 million college students(5). However, stigmas about utilizing food assistance programs continue to infiltrate students’ own perception of their needs. In a survey administered at Midwestern university(6), 70% of students indicated they had never considered applying for a public assistance program, with their most frequent explanation for this decision being “I think other people have greater need”. Another qualitative study(7) reported that in the case of a student who admitted to skipping meals and eating less because of financial stress, the student still did not apply for SNAP because they believed “‘I wasn’t in a desperate enough position to warrant it… Obviously if I’m in the position where I can’t eat period, then I really just don’t have no choice (but to apply for SNAP)’”. Shame and embarrassment about participating in welfare programs has also been commonly expressed among students and deters them from applying for benefits.
In collaboration with OSA, by alleviating some of the bureaucratic burden, Anabel’s Grocery hopes to address the psychological stress, historical stigma, and confusion about the application and eligibility requirements for SNAP. The FAQs below serve as a small guide and introduction to SNAP. OSA and Anabel’s Grocery are available and welcome any student who wants one-on-one support in navigating the SNAP application process.
* As of now, the NYSDOH has not confirmed if SHP Plus will continue, unfortunately.
Lyn Abbass can be contacted at email@example.com 607-255-5467 for student health inquiries. She can best assist students at Cornell when trying to sign up for SHP Plus and explain other Cornell Health insurance options. Students must be actively enrolled in NYS Medicaid to be considered for SHP Plus.
GAO. 2019. Food Insecurity: Better Information Could Help Eligible College Students Access Federal Food Assistance Benefits. Government Accountability Office Dickinson, M. (2021). SNAP, campus food insecurity, and the politics of deservingness. Agriculture and human values, 1-12. Haney-Lopez, I. 2014. Dog whistle politics: How coded racial appeals reinvented racism and wrecked the middle class. New York: Oxford University Press. Roberts, S. 1981. Food Stamps Program: How it Grew and How Reagan Wants to Cut it Back. The New York Times. April 4. Granville, P. 2021. Congress Made 3 Million College Students Newly Eligible for SNAP Food Aid. The Century Foundation. https://tcf.org/content/commentary/congress-made-3-million-college-students-newly-eligible-snap-food-aid-heres-must-come-next/?agreed=1&session=1&agreed=1&agreed=1&agreed=1. Goldrick-Rab, S., Coca, V., Baker-Smith, C., & Looker, E. 2019. City University of New York #RealCollege Survey. Hope Lab. https://hope4college.com/city-university-of-new-york-realcollege-survey/. Fortin, K., Harvey, S., & Swearingen White, S. (2021). Hidden Hunger: Understanding the complexity of food insecurity among college students. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 40(3), 242-252. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07315724.2020.1754304 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03670244.2021.1956484 https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1302&context=sph_pubs
What is SNAP?
Previously known as food stamps, SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that issues families and individuals monthly benefits to purchase food. Students who are eligible and approved for SNAP can receive $250/month for their groceries. Individuals purchase their food using a SNAP card, similar to a debit card, that automatically deposits their monthly benefits.
Where can I use my SNAP benefits?
On Campus: Anabel’s Grocery
Off Campus: Greenstar, Target, Walmart, Wegmans, Tops, ALDI, etc.
Comprehensive List of ALL Ithaca Stores that accept SNAP
What can I buy using my SNAP benefits?
Fruits and vegetables;
Meat, poultry, and fish;
Breads and cereals;
Other foods such as snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages; and
Seeds and plants, which produce food for the household to eat.
CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes, or tobacco
Vitamins, medicines, and supplements
Live animals (except shellfish, fish removed from water, and animals slaughtered prior to pick-up from the store)
Foods that are hot at the point of sale
Any nonfood items such as:
Cleaning supplies, paper products, and other household supplies.
Hygiene items, cosmetics
Do I qualify for SNAP?
YES, if you qualify for SNAP if you meet ANY ONE of these criteria:
Qualify for federal work study (even if you do not currently have a work study position)
Have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0, as determined by your FAFSA application
Works at least 20 hours a week in paid employment
Enrolled full-time and a single parent with responsibility for the care of a dependent child under age 12
Receive benefits from Family Assistance (FA) or federally-funded Safety Net Assistance (SNA).
Receive Unemployment Benefits (UIB).
Responsible for a dependent child between the ages of 6 & 12 for whom you have trouble securing child care
Who do I contact if I have questions or want help filling out my SNAP application?
Cornell Office of the Student Advocate
Email to set up an appointment with County Caseworkers to receive help on application
Tompkins County Department of Social Services
Location: 320 West State Street, Ithaca, New York 14850
Phone number: 607-274-5680
SNAP assistance phone number: 274-5201
How do I apply for SNAP?
Options to apply for SNAP:
Online Application (fastest way to receive benefits)
NY State SNAP General Information Website (including application instructions)
PDF Application for SNAP
Alternative format of PDF for individuals who are blind or visually impaired
Alternative forms include:
Audio transcription of the form (Auto Disc)
Screen reader accessible form (Data Disc)
Braille (not online, must be ordered)
How-to online Application for SNAP:
Create an account on https://my.ny.gov/
5. Check your email to activate your account.
For instructions for completing the rest of the application visit https://otda.ny.gov/programs/applications/4826A.pdf