Report shows few California college students enroll in food assistance, despite qualifying

Few college students participate in the state’s CalFresh food program despite being eligible, according to a report published Tuesday by the University of California’s California Policy Lab.

The report, “Filling the Gap: CalFresh Eligibility Among University of California and California Community College Students,” is the first to link together datasets that provide estimates on the number of California college students who are eligible for CalFresh, the state’s food benefits program, in addition to their take-up rate—the share of students who are eligible and also participate in the program.

The report’s authors found that CalFresh eligibility and students’ subsequent enrollment in the program depended significantly on which institution of higher learning they attended, age, housing situation, and other factors. The school they were enrolled in was often connected to the level of outreach they received informing them of the food benefits program and whether they received a certain financial aid grant that made them eligible for CalFresh.

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