State and federal lawmakers on Tuesday called for the passage of a measure to ensure college students can receive access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as COVID-19 pandemic-era provisions are ending. 

The measure, backed by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, would expand SNAP benefits to all college students who are attending two and four-year universities on a part-time basis or need more to meet traditional income and eligibility requirements. 

Emergency provisions approved during the pandemic for expanded SNAP eligibility for college students will expire a month after the end of the public health emergency on Thursday. 

“With emergency COVID-19 SNAP benefits for college students set to expire next month, we need to simplify eligibility for critical SNAP benefits to combat food insecurity plaguing low-income college students across New York State and the country,” Gillibrand said. “The EATS Act would eliminate work-for-food barriers for low-income students and ensure that as many as 4 million college students nationwide can access the SNAP benefits needed to learn and thrive. College students should never have to choose between food and their education - the time to act is now.”

Gillibrand's office estimated 290,000 college students in New York would be newly eligible for SNAP benefits if the measure is approved. The proposal has the backing of New York lawmakers, including state Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal. 

Rosenthal is backing a measure to address hunger on college campuses. 

"In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, students should not be forced to search high and low for their next meal," she said. "Yet, with rising rents, inflated grocery costs, and stagnant wages, far too many young adults in New York State and across the country are attending school on empty stomachs or working multiple jobs to make ends meet."