LBCC is now the second community college in the state of Oregon that to accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
As of Jan. 18, the Campus Store will be accepting SNAP benefits; SNAP offers benefits to low-income families and individuals in order to help them purchase food. This is a federally funded program, and is meant as a supplement to someone’s diet.
This project has been ongoing for about two years, with the efforts of Lawrence LaJoie, the Bookstore Manager; Eric Slyter, SLC President; and Bruce Clemetsen, Vice President of Student Affairs. Two years ago, LBCC applied as the first community college in Oregon pursue SNAP, and was denied. Shortly after, Clackamas Community College applied and was accepted. Later on, OSU also began accepting SNAP benefits. Learning from CCC and OSU, LBCC reapplied last summer and was accepted in November 2016.
With the bookstore now accepting SNAP, it will allow students who already have those benefits to have easier access to food on campus.
“It’s going to help the students to be able to actually buy some food and snacks on campus with the benefits they already have, while they’re here studying, while they’re here working, and being a student,” said La Joie.
With a SNAP card, a student can purchase food, plants, and seeds. However, food choices are limited to items that have a nutrition label or would be considered ingredients; bread, crackers, vegetables, meat, soda, candy and even some energy drinks are accepted, but hot or prepared items are not accepted.
“We’re hoping that they can pick up a couple things that they might need, from a convenience standpoint, to bring home to make,” said LaJoie. “That’s really the intention of the program itself; to help those students who have the benefits take something and bring it home and make it.”
The next step for LaJoie, Slyter and Clemetsen is to survey the students to see what they would like to see sold in the store, as well as spreading awareness about SNAP benefits, what they offer and how to apply.
LBCC currently has a temporary aide for students who need food called the Linn-Benton Lunchbox, where students are welcome to grab a donated meal for themselves and their families. The Campus Store accepting SNAP will provide even more help to low-income students at LBCC.
Clemetsen hopes to enlist the help of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and propose a way to make it easier for other community colleges in Oregon to become SNAP retailers.
“Nationally, we serve more low-income students than four-year universities. Most community colleges don’t have a place for you to refrigerate your food, store your food, or prepare your food,” said Clemetsen. “We don’t have those resources. If you’re in K-12, and your low-income to be on food benefits, your children are getting fed breakfast and lunch, and you come to the community college and you can’t eat, unless you go off campus or you pack a nonperishable lunch or food with you.”
To apply for SNAP, or to see if you’re eligible, you can apply online or in person at the local Department of Human Services. More information and resources about SNAP, as well as other LBCC resources, will be available at LBCC’s Resource Fair on Wednesday Feb. 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the east end of the Commons.
Story by Erin Ritchie
Photo by Elliot Pond