College kids on food stamps

Universities are encouraging students to sign up for food stamps, reports The Daily Caller.  The stimulus bill changed the rules, making it easier for healthy young adults without children to qualify.

About 13 percent of Americans use food stamps. Most are low-income working people with young children, but increasingly students are discovering that’s it’s easy to qualify — and hard for anyone to tell they’re shopping on the taxpayers’ dime.

Salon featured educated “hipsters” using food stamps to buy high-priced gourmet food at trendy organic stores.

“I’m sort of a foodie, and I’m not going to do the ‘living off ramen’ thing,” one young man said, fondly remembering a recent meal he’d prepared of roasted rabbit with butter, tarragon and sweet potatoes. “I used to think that you could only get processed food and government cheese on food stamps, but it’s great that you can get anything.”

Food stamps — really a tax-funded credit card — “can be used for just about anything edible, including wild-caught fish, organic asparagus and triple-crème cheese,” Salon reports.

Via Instapundit, who also links to a story on college costs rising in the recession: More Boston-area colleges have broken the $50,000-a-year barrier.

Among the latest members of the $50K Club: Harvard, MIT, Wellesley, Brandeis, Brown, Dartmouth, and Holy Cross. They join Tufts, Boston University, Boston College, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Babson, which all broke the barrier this year.

Financial aid — some of it subsidized by the taxpayers — cushions the sticker shock.

About Joanne


  1. dangermom says:

    Dude. The end is nigh. I’m happy for my taxes to help families who need to buy food, but not to help college students buy expensive fish. That’s just disgusting. Do they have no shame? (BTW our family spent 2009 with almost zero income. I’m not unsympathetic to the problems of this recession. But COME ON.)

  2. I read the linked Salon article and it’s not just colllege students. That article was talking about 20 and 30-somethings with college degrees. Some degrees are very vulnerable to economic downturns, but those grads with fine arts degrees (and various other degrees currently not in demand) should not be living off the taxpayers. Wait tables, clean houses, do lawncare or childcare or whatever is available and forget shopping at upscale markets.

  3. Eric Jablow says:

    There is also the “parents’ healthcare until age 26” provision. As the song should go now, “I ain’t gonna eat no Government Bries.”

  4. I’m not surprised. A couple years ago I was thinking of moving in with 3 college girls who had a 4 bedroom apartment. They were explaining how they all chip in for groceries, and then one of them said to me, ‘but it won’t be much, because (girl) is getting food stamps soon.’ I ended up moving into a different apartment with one roommate, and I had to talk her out of getting food stamps. I want, I want, I want.

  5. You go to govt schools for 13 years, and then you go to schools while on the govt dole for 4 more, why would you even conceive of paying for your own food? People don’t have to pay for their own mortgage, or their own car, or their own bank fees, why pay for their own food?

    It was nice knowing America. 250 years is really the outside length a republic gets, I guess.

  6. tim-10-ber says:

    Greifer — very well said…

    Thanks government schools…

  7. Clearly it is a no brainer that these kids are spoiled and the food stamp program needs reform (a la welfare reform in 1994). However, I just love how all of a sudden the last two commentators jumped to blaming “government” schools. (Just out of curiosity, Greifer and tim-10-ber, do you call our highways “government highways’ or our libraries “government libraries” or our military “government military” and so on? Or do you just reserve that disdainful tone for our schools and teachers? Again, just curious.)

  8. Soapbox0916 says:

    As someone who works with the homeless and the disabled, it really irks me knowing people that really do need help and really do need food assistance are getting denied food stamps while these college students elsewhere are getting them instead.

  9. tim-10-ber says:

    I will tackle this…I, believe it or not, am a huge advocate for improving government schools. As I parent as I was actively engaged in four government schools for a total of 14 years. I was able to study the school district deeply for six years as part of a community group. I watch our district go from a majority – minority to a minority – majority and watch it flip from less than 50% FARM to 76% and growing FARM.

    What I found was a monopoly unresponsive to the needs of its students, putting adults first, mainstreaming to the detriment of high achieving students, not getting rid of ineffective teachers who did not know their subject, an environment of blame the kids first then ask questions later, limiting AP classes to the ones lucky enough to get into the two academic magnet schools while forgetting the equally talented students stuck in their default/zoned schools, willing to embrace low standards and tests cut scores to make themselves look better regardless of the impact to the student, following fad after fad (following dollars actually) without reporting out the results (they were rarely good) and being very narrow and shallow in what was taught the kids. NCLB only made this worse.

    I pulled both of my kids from government schools (finally) as the schools were not meeting the needs of my high achieving students on all levels. Best thing I ever did and the most irritating as I have truly value the diversity found in government schools and the real life experiences my kids saw and experienced. Yet, had I not chosen to do this I honestly do not believe my sons would have become the young men they are today. So yes I come at this argument being extremely disappointed in the venture I supported for 14 years with my time, energy and money.

    My kids had teachers yell at them for no reason, tell me they would have to tutor my child through algebra (my son had an 8 stanine out of 9 in 7th grade in math) because she DID NOT teach him pre-algebra (that was the 7th grade class he was enrolled in). The amount of algebra he would have been tutored through was just the first 6 chapters of the books – enough to pass the EOC exam required for graduation. What kind of foundation is that for math? This was true for all kids in 8th or 9th grade algebra in the default/zoned schools. (This has sense been changed.) There was little writing – meaning very few research papers in the default middle school and in the academic magnet high school. Not very good prep for college…

    My older son’s last year in his government school he had both an ineffective math teacher (she might have been very good except for mainstreaming so many kids in his classroom so we will never know) and a science teacher who could not explain what he wanted the kids to do much less teach them the subject matter. The district implemented a reading program that same year because of it having failed to teach so many kids to read over the years. (This program is long gone and then came reading first.) My son who could read just fine thank you (yes, because of his excellent K and 1st grade teachers and what we did at home) but he did not have the opportunity to take a language class so he had four academics and two electives. Again, not a good prep for high school when the academic magnet my younger son went to started languages in 5th grade. Oh yes, the school had no computer courses but had a beautiful empty computer lab…his brother had started six week rotations through a computer lab at his middle school in 5th grade.

    My district, today, is 76% free and reduced meals yet the district continues to socially promote kids, has a large drop out rate and has taken the stance the best time to help kids is after they fail two or more freshman high school classes in the first semester. Hmmmm…seems to many parents the best time to help the kids is as soon as they start showing they are lagging behind regardless of their age…common sense, right?

    A new director is in place and he is making changes yet he has kept in place administrators that are a huge part of the problem…I have no clue if they will get fired or not in this upcoming round of budget cuts…I am not alone in my thinking…

    I have watched the schools and educators take on more and more responsibility or raising the child, take on more and more administrative stuff that means less and less time educating my children…where has all the money spent on technology gone when my district is basically 100% paper? How effectively are my tax dollars truly being spent? I am honestly not sure.

    Do government schools not understand they are a business? They are entrusted with hundreds of millions of dollars each year and do they spend them as effectively and responsibly as possible? You can answer this question for me…Yes, students are not widgets so why not meet them where they are, help them catch up and then move them forward…I am a huge proponent of an individualized education that is flexible in allowing kids to truly master subjects and then move forward at a “normal” or accelerated pace…this is not allowed in today’s government school…

    I have tried to work with the person in charge of discipline of the district to help him understand that it is the adults in the building that set the tone/environment the students will experience. Rather than catching the kids doing something wrong couldn’t they focus on praising them when they do things right? He could not understand this…I have heard the light bulb might have finally come on…I am cautiously optimistic…

    The list goes on…

    Before I forget…many (most) of the principals in the schools my kids went to were not strong. They were not leaders and they supported weak and ineffective teachers with what appeared to this parent to be nothing more than lame excuses…

    I don’t know if this helps or not…yes I am tough on government schools…I applaud those who have chosen to teach as you have a talent I do not and that is a high level of patience and willingness to work in the environment in which you do…my business would have failed countless years ago if we operated the way schools do…but…my hat is off to you…

    In full disclosure I am opposed to tenure to protect jobs (not lawsuits) and I want to do away with the government pensions and have defined contribution plans to save the tax-payers money. I am in favor of paying teachers for their degrees, experience before teaching, effectiveness in the classroom even if this means some teachers get much more comp than others as long as all have the ability to earn the higher scores…

    Thanks for asking…

  10. tim-10-ber says:

    one more comment — i love this blog. The articles make me think…the comments from so many help me gather additional information to share with others in my district…thank you!!

    Also…my district is outside of the norm as we have 20% of the kids in the city in private schools…countless parents have given up on their local government schools and have no intention of helping them be stronger…that is very sad…we truly have a two tiered education system — three actually if you count the academic magnet schools, the default/zoned schools and the private schools…not a very healthy environment for improving government education…we need total community buy-in to make the government schools better

  11. I remember hearing when I was in grad school that the rules made it explicitly impossible for people on graduate assistantships to get food stamps – though we were certainly notionally below the poverty line. Has something changed? Or was it that we were employees, for that purpose?

  12. Ohio Annie says:

    Michael, yes, you heard right. TAs and RAs are employees so they can’t go on welfare-type programs. Among other reasons.

    I lived on biscuits and vegetable soup for 4 years. Utilities were included in my rent. I paid 450 a month rent and grossed 14k a year (a lot by other fields’ standards, I was in one of the physical sciences).

  13. Chartermom says:

    I remember checking out the requirements for NC a few months ago. It turns out that student working part-time was more likely to be able to obtain food stamps than some low-income working adults. NC doesn’t allow more that $2000. in the bank in order to qualify (although you could own a home or a car outright). As students are unlikely to have a lot of money in the bank (or have the option of “hiding” it with mom and dad) most would not need to worry about this requirement. Meanwhile a poor family that might want to put a few dollars away against unexpected expenses such as a major car repair ($1000 easily) or an unexpected illness (a couple of weeks out of work) wouldn’t qualify. A minor auto accident could easily result in both of these occurences at the same time. And worse yet the $2000. also disqualified from SCHIP and probably other programs. It just seemed insane that we were discouraging people from doing exactly the thing (save a bit) they need to do to save themselves from potential disaster. I’m not suggesting that there shouldn’t be an asset test — just not one that is so low that it forces people to live on the brink of disaster while at the same time enabling students to obtain benefits.

  14. Inigo Montoya says:

    These stories remind me of Ronald Reagan’s rants about welfare queens driving around in Cadillacs on the taxpayer dime. Right up there with his “trees cause pollution” stuff. The crowds loved it.

    Hey, people. We’ve been around this block before. Show a little critical thinking skill. Consider the sources of these stories, and what their political agendas may be.

    Journalists look for colorful, outrageous examples because that’s what people will read and remember. People who oppose a government program look for colorful, outrageous examples to pump up opposition to the program.

    I for one would rather have college students eligible for food stamps if their income is low. That will help keep them in school full-time, working less than 20 hours a week, and we know that means they’re more likely to complete a degree and become self-sufficient. Also, it means they’re not competing with other people for a job during the recession. Food stamps (SNAP) is a pretty cheap incentive for them to do that, and they can only spend the money on food.

  15. Inculcation to a life of dependency works best on the impressionable and who’s more impressionable than college kids. And speaking of critical thinking – these people aren’t denying it – they’re just putting their hands out.

  16. We had very little income my DH’s last semester of grad school because I had decided not to return to full-time employment after having baby #2. We qualified for WIC but decided that morally it wouldn’t be right to accept it. The safety net wasn’t originally intended to cover those who are temporarily low-income through their own choice to pursue higher education.

  17. tim-10-ber says:

    Crimson Wife — thank you!! None of the safety programs with the exception of medicare for the elderly and disabled were to be long-term. Social security was never intended to be the sole source of support for one’s retirement…

    inigo montoya — what is wrong with working more than 20 hours a week and going to college part of full-time? I did it, I know others doing it…it is what worked for us and motivated us to complete college — we were there because we knew we needed the degree. the payoff has been incredible…

  18. It makes me mad to hear of college students using food stamps just to eat nice meals of expensive fish and rabbit. I too am a full time college student. I support myself and have no help from anyone. No mommy and daddy paying for my school, I pay for it all myself. I work very hard in school, taking 14-17 credit hours a semester, so that I can get a degree to make a good living.(unlike I am no with no degree) Even with all the classes and studying I still work 15-20 hours a week, physically, mentally, and emotionally draining my self. And even working as much as I can with going to school I can barely afford to pay bills let alone eat. There are many days I don’t even eat at all because I can’t afford to. But that’s a price I’ve been willing to pay, my education is my #1 priority to me until I graduate so that I can have a good paying career. So I think its wonderfull now food stamps are offered to college students, WHO ACTUALLY NEED THEM. I just can’t stand people who abuse it, and use it just to have nice meals or to have more money for fun stuff. It’s so wrong!

  19. Obamacare says:

    So critics, you’d rather have the usual lazy obese “ghetto” people getting food stamp instead of college students trying to better themselves?


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