Students take advantage of state benefits

While on “The Hill,” many students rely on their annual income to buy groceries. However, some students have discovered a new resource – food stamps.

Automated Community Connection to Economic Self-Sufficiency, a public assistance program through the Florida Department of Children and Families, provides food stamps and other means of community assistance.

Pat Smith, regional communications manager, said the program was developed to help everyone, not just students.

“The process for students is consistent throughout the state,” Smith said.

Dennise Parker, the Northwest Access program manager, said the program is developed to help citizens of the community have a better living.

“We want everyone to have easy access to the benefits and to help make people self-sufficient, especially students,” Parker said.

Jonathan Huggs, 20, a junior business administration student from Chicago, said he used to receive food stamps but because he started working another job he exceeded the maximum hours he could work according to the program.

“I had to get another job because the other one wasn’t carrying the load,” Huggs said.

When Huggs started his second job, he said the food stamp office found out about it and discontinued his funding.

“You’re supposed to tell them (when you get another job), but I didn’t,” he said. “The other job was paying a little more and I didn’t think they would find out.”

Because Huggs’ didn’t inform the food stamp office of his new job, he had to reapply once his six-month term was over.

“After your term is over, you have to apply again,” he said. “They send you a letter in the mail before the period is over. I had to go back online and update the information in order to be considered for food stamps again.”

Huggs said if students don’t apply before the renewal deadline, they will have to repeat the application process.

The minimum dollar amount in food stamps students can receive is $155. The amount varies with student and income.

Parker said in order to receive food stamps students can apply online at, or visit the DCF office. The Tallahassee office is located at 2810 Sharer Rd. After the initial application, an interview will be scheduled.

Applicants have to meet three eligibility requirements. Applicants need to be between 18 to 50 years old, receive income for physical and/or mental handicaps or be a student who attends college either part-time or full-time.

Applicants in these three categories must be:

1) Employed for 20 hours a week.

2) Enrolled in a federal financed work program.

3) Responsible for the care of a dependent under 6 years old

• That receives temporary cash assistance.

• That receives food stamps.

4) Parents who have children over 5 and younger than 12.

5) Single parents who have children under 12.