Campus Social Justice Ohio University begins accepting SNAP benefits at Jefferson Marketplace By Maggie Prosser Posted on January 31, 2018 5 min read 0 1 598 SNAP benefits are now accepted at Jefferson Market. Photo by Kyle Nienaber. Ohio U begin accepting SNAP benefits as a form of payment in January as part of the university’s Basic Needs OHIO Initiative. Students who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are now able to use their benefits at Jefferson Marketplace following its approval as a federal SNAP retailer Jan. 24. The university launched the Basic Needs OHIO Initiative in early November to combat student food, shelter and financial insecurity. The initiative established the Baker University Center Food Pantry, but the introduction of SNAP at Jefferson Marketplace marks a milestone according to Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina. “For a number of years, Culinary Services has been a leader through their participation in local food recovery programs,” Pina said in a press release. “Today, we are excited to expand these efforts by accepting SNAP benefits in Jefferson Marketplace. It’s yet another small step in the right direction for Ohio University.” SNAP is a federal food assistance program for low to no-income households. To qualify for benefits, a household’s monthly income must be 130 percent or less of the national poverty level. A household of three people in Ohio has to earn less than $2,500 a month to be eligible for the program. “I applaud Ohio University for taking this step to assist low-income students,” Scott Zielinski, Executive Director of Athens County Department of Job and Family Services, said. “This program is an important tool to fight poverty and hunger in our county, and we support any programs that increase access for people.” There are notable exceptions that prevent college students from receiving SNAP, Zielinski said. According to Ohio Administrative Code 5101:4-6-04, students are not eligible if they are enrolled part-time at a business, technical, trade or vocational school, or in a degree program that doesn’t require a high school diploma. Those that live in dormitories are not eligible for SNAP. To be eligible, students must meet the income standards and one of the following criteria: A full-time student working at least 20 hours per week A full-time single student caring for a child 12 years or younger A full-time married student caring for a child 6 years or younger A half-time student who is working through a work-study program “Those exemptions disqualify most students, but for those students meeting an exemption we encourage their use of this safety net program to help meet such an important need,” Zielinski said. Zielinski said his agency will continue to process food assistance applications for Ohio U students. Gwyn Scott, Associate Vice President for Auxiliaries, said Jefferson’s proximity to both the campus and off-campus population made it an ideal location for SNAP. “We have a large selection of SNAP-eligible products and are looking forward to expanding our offerings as the program participation grows,” Scott said. Jefferson Marketplace is currently the only market on campus accepting SNAP. It is also open to community members.