The State University of New York on Wednesday launched an auto-enrollment program for about 10,000 food insecure students to receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Chancellor Jim Malatras said. 

“Within our Educational Opportunity Centers alone, 50% of our students have suffered from food insecurity at some point, which is why SUNY is tackling this issue on multiple fronts, whether it is having food pantries on or near campuses, to today’s important program of automatically enrolling eligible students into the SNAP program,” Malatras said. “Today’s expansion will allow our dedicated students to focus on their academic pursuits and career goals instead of where they will get their next meal."

The move is meant to enroll students who are eligible for assistance, but may have not signed up for the program after it was expanded in October by Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

A survey of SUNY students found 23% of students eligible for benefits have considered enrolling for SNAP benefits. 

To qualify, students must have been engaged at least half-time in a career and technical education program, remedial course, adult education, literacy, or English as a second language. State rules allow students to also substitute certain coursework for the 20-hour work requirement, which expands eligibility to financially struggling students.