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UW-Madison Working On Plan To Let Students Use Food Stamps For Campus Dining

University Would Be First Campus In US To Have All-Encompassing Policy

L.G. Patterson/AP Photo

A University of Wisconsin-Madison student is behind an initiative to allow students, faculty and staff to use food stamps at all campus dining facilities.

Student Brooke Evans — who spent a portion of her higher education experience homeless and living in her car — is a member of the student government group Associated Students of Madison and made the proposal the student group approved. University officials are now working to make this happen by fall.

The idea came to Evans after she realized there were certain places on campus where she couldn’t buy food due to her financial status. She said the initiative would allow all members of campus in government food assistance programs to use their resources at all campus location, not just specified areas.

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If approved, UW-Madison would be the first full-access food stamp-friendly campus in the country, according to Evans and Brendon Dybdahl, spokesman for University Housing, which oversees campus dining.

The hope is that the change will help improve campus life for students who receive government assistance, Dybdahl said.

“It’s a benefit to all those students that maybe have more financial hardships who need that kind of assistance program,” Dybdahl said. “It gives them the chance to be able to have the same dining experience that the other students on campus are without having limited choices.”

He said the university is working with the federal government to determine which foods would be eligible for the program due to federal restrictions.

“This is sort of a unique thing for a college campus,” he said. “But for sure we’re looking at the convenience stores, grocery-type items in there, but then we’re also exploring what we could potentially do within the dining markets as well.”

He said dining halls may have to change how certain meals are packaged to allow more food to be eligible.

Evans said other UW System campuses have expressed interest in becoming food stamp-friendly.