Food Insecurity in Tennessee Higher Education


The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) is committed to addressing barriers to post-secondary attainment. T.C.A. § 49-7-214 mandates THEC to submit a report to the Tennessee General Assembly on issues of food insecurity among students at public institutions of higher education in Tennessee by December 31, 2023.

Food Insecurity in Tennessee Higher Education Convening, November 15th 2022

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) convened stakeholders of food insecurity in higher education to discuss the extent of food insecurity across Tennessee higher education institutions and the intervention strategies used by institutions.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) will end on May 11, 2023. The lifting of the PHE will begin to end expansions to student eligibility the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) authorized under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA, 2021).

Per guidance released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), once the PHE declaration is lifted on May 11, 2023, the temporary student exemptions will remain in effect for initial SNAP applications for an additional 30 days. State SNAP agencies must continue to apply the temporary exemptions to initial applications filed on or before June 9, 2023. State SNAP agencies must also process SNAP recertification applications submitted through June 30, 2023, using the temporary exemptions.

Students applying for SNAP for the first time may qualify under the temporary exemptions if they submit their SNAP application to their SNAP State agency on or before June 9, 2023.

Students who enroll at least half-time at an institution of higher education are eligible for SNAP if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

1.         Eligible to participate in a State or federally financed work study program; or,

2.         Has an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year.

The Tennessee Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can provide supplemental income for purchasing food for low-income households. Additional student SNAP eligibility information can be found here and a student eligibility check list can be found here. One-on-one help with SNAP applications, appeals, or student advocacy can be found here.

Apply for the Tennessee SNAP here.

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

WIC provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. Additional WIC information can be found here.

Tennessee Quick Screener

The TN Quick Screener is an online tool that allows users to be screened for six key support services, as well as information about four additional programs. These key support services include SNAP, TANF, WIC, Lifeline, Earned Income Tax Credit, and Child Tax Credit. It also provides information about WIOA, Smart Steps Childcare Payment Assistance, Tennessee Reconnect Grant, and SNAP Employment and Training.

Graduate Student Resources

Food insecurity is not limited to undergraduate students. This custom guide shares resources and support for graduate students experiencing basic needs insecurity.

Tennessee Justice Center

             The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) assists Tennesseans to learn about and apply for SNAP, WIC, and Child Nutrition Programs. Additional food insecurity resources and information for college students can be found here.

For questions and additional information, please email