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Surviving The Economic Storm With A Pool Noodle

Even before the pandemic, one in three college students in this country experienced food insecurity and nearly one in five experienced housing insecurity or homelessness. Economic inequality prior to the pandemic combined with the COVID-19 crisis has left our nation’s college students with record high food insecurity, housing insecurity, and anxiety– all of which calls for big, bold, and swift action if we expect to sustain our academic institutions as we’ve known them.  

The most recent congressional relief proposal, The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act (ECRA), provides some short-term relief to students. These reliefs include increasing access for students to the SNAP program by easing student SNAP eligibility requirements and providing $10 billion to institutions of higher education that can benefit students with lower incomes.

While this support feels helpful, its temporary nature falls far short of the necessary and owed support to keep students in college– a constant challenge for institutions across the country in the COVID era. 

The ECRA provides insufficient direct stimulus payments, extends the student loan forbearance measure for only a few months, and ignores the dire need of federal support to our nation’s cities and localities that provide key resources to struggling students. 

Swipe Out Hunger welcomes the changes to increase access for students in SNAP,  the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program; but the pandemic’s economic impact will continue to wreak havoc on our nation’s students well beyond the pandemic– so why does The ECRA’s support end in a matter of months from now? As we saw in the last recession, it will take more than six months for Americans to recover

Don’t we owe it to these students to develop legislation that supports them in the long-term? 

The ECRA could have permanently expanded access to SNAP, addressed our student loan crisis, provided relief for small business and the hospitality industry (which often employs students), or provided affordable and accessible health care to students — but it didn’t. 

As one of the millions of hurting students reported to us, “I was laid off because of the pandemic. I won’t be able to continue to pay any tuition because it is becoming hard to pay for basic necessities.” 

How will The ECRA reverse so much of the economic damage incurred over the last 9 months for this student? 

The ECRA provides short-term fixes, ones that feel like a flotation device given to a country standing at the shore of an economic hurricane. Our nation’s students and the future leaders of our country cannot be left clinging to shipwreck damage to stay afloat

Let’s keep the floats and pool noodles to just pool parties, and not confuse temporary fixes as solutions for the systemic challenges impacting everyday Americans. 
 
Join Swipe Out Hunger and our nation’s college students in demanding that our legislators in Washington, D.C. and state capitals across the country provide the permanent relief that our students need.

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