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A student is picking on the potato at the Irvine Farmer's Market.
Steve Zylius / UCI

On any given day, Christal Yu fields about 10 texts and emails from fellow students asking about food pantries, rental assistance, or low-cost textbooks. A student at Borough of Manhattan Community College, she balances schoolwork with her role as a student navigator, guiding peers to critical resources.

Right now, one of her biggest priorities is getting the word out about a big change to one of those resources: the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Estimates on student hunger vary, but according to a recent survey by Chegg, one in three college students has experienced food insecurity since the beginning of the pandemic. Previous surveys ranged from about 10% to roughly half of students reporting food insecurity, depending on how hunger was measured.

Despite discrepancies, experts agree student hunger is a problem. That’s why the recent temporary expansion of SNAP eligibility is so vital for students, experts say.

But the expansion will only be effective if students know about it, which is where student leaders like Yu come in.

What to know about the new SNAP rules

The SNAP expansion, part of the pandemic relief bill Congress passed in December, took effect in January — and will remain in place until the public health emergency is lifted.