The Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the UA’s student government, will begin lobbying state legislators to extend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for students who became eligible during the pandemic. The ASUA Senate met on Wednesday, Jan. 18 to discuss this new advocacy issue as well as an update on elections and the announcement of club FAQ sessions.
Tackling food insecurity
Student Body President Patrick Robles is adding another issue to ASUA’s advocacy: food security. The percentage of students experiencing food insecurity doubled during the pandemic according to UA research conducted in 2020. Robles said ASUA wants to see SNAP benefits extended for students who became reliant on them during the pandemic.
“We’re looking for an extension, but an extension that is sustainable and solidified so that college students don’t find themselves again in this weird limbo of trying to apply for SNAP benefits, but those that are helping them apply aren’t sure how far to go with the application if those benefits may be taken away from them tomorrow,” Robles said.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 temporarily expanded exemptions to make more students eligible for SNAP benefits. It added exemptions for students who were eligible for state or federal work study (without requiring them to participate in work study) and students with an Expected Family Contribution of zero.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture's website, these temporary exemptions will end 30 days after the federal government lifts the official designation of the nationwide COVID-19 public health emergency. ASUA’s goal is to persuade state legislators to extend the exemptions beyond the official end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The efforts that we’re planning to embark on are state lobbying efforts, with folks in the state house and folks in the state senate and folks in the governor’s office,” Robles said.
More information on SNAP eligibility and student exemptions can be found at fns.usda.gov/snap/students.
The senate held a special meeting on Sunday, Jan. 15, and approved dates for the 2023 ASUA election cycle. Campaign packets are now available for prospective candidates and can be picked up at the ASUA office in the Student Union Memorial Center until Wednesday, Feb. 1, when they are due.
The primary election will be held from Feb. 15 at 8 a.m. to Feb. 16 at 8 p.m., and the general election will be held from March 1 at 8 a.m. to March 2 at 8 p.m. More information, including an election timeline and position descriptions, is available on the ASUA website and Instagram page.
Club FAQ sessions
Starting this week, ASUA will hold monthly FAQ sessions for clubs. The first session will be held on Zoom on Jan. 25 and will be about club registration troubleshooting. Clubs will be able to ask ASUA officials questions about registration and other administrative tasks, according to Executive Vice President Nico Nieri-Lang.
“We’re going to go through club registration. A lot of clubs bring us questions like, ‘how do I do this, how do I make my constitution, how do I find an advisor' – all the things they need to become ASUA-approved. This session is for them to ask those questions and for us to walk them through that process,” Nieri-Lang said.
Next month’s FAQ session will be about appropriations and funding. Information regarding future FAQ sessions will be announced via the new Instagram page for ASUA clubs, @asuaclubs.
The next ASUA senate meeting will be held on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Pima room of the Student Union Memorial Center.
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