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The Massachusetts Hunger-Free Campus Coalition was formed in the fall of 2019 to address food insecurity among high-need populations enrolled in Massachusetts public colleges and universities. Collectively, the coalition is working to leverage and expand existing resources and services including maximizing student enrollment in federal nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), supporting meal swipe options with campus food vendors, ensuring that campuses work with Massachusetts food banks to expand food pantries, and other initiatives designed to address food insecurity among the student population. Our goal is to ensure equity and incorporate student voices as we work to make Massachusetts college campuses hunger free.
Student Food Insecurity in Massachusetts
- 37% of public university students in Massachusetts are food insecure.
- Because of historic and contemporary divestment and discrimination, Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ students disproportionately experience food insecurity – at rates of 52%, 47%, and 46% respectively. Student parents also experience higher rates of food insecurity at 53%.
- Only 20% of food insecure students utilize SNAP benefits. (Source)
Legislation Overview and Sponsors
In January of 2023, Senator Lovely, Representative Vargas, and Representative Domb re-filed An Act establishing the Hunger Free Campus Initiative (SD691 / HD3873). The bill provides a roadmap for the Department of Higher Ed to support 2- and 4-year public colleges and minority -serving institutions in bringing hunger relief initiatives that have been proven successful to campuses around Massachusetts.
This visionary bill looks to reimagine how college campuses are tackling food insecurity. The legislation does the following:
- Creates an Office of Capacity Building Services at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to provide funding, technical assistance, and grant opportunities to campuses aiming to address food insecurity.
- Incentivizes campuses to leverage existing resources and maximize enrollment in federal nutrition programs.
- Urges campuses to create student-led food insecurity task forces to explore instituting anti-hunger initiatives in order to be considered for grant funding. These initiatives include student meal sharing programs, emergency funds for students to address their basic needs, campus food insecurity surveys, on-campus Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) vendors, and more.
This bill offers an intentional menu of options for schools to have the resources and capacity to tackle food insecurity on their campuses.
“Food insecurity is a solvable problem. The pandemic has further exacerbated hunger, especially for college students already struggling to get by. In a state where our cost of living is so high and navigating support can be complicated, solving food insecurity will require a systems approach that builds capacity, efficiency and meets people where they’re at. At the end of the day, college students can’t learn or take advantage of professional opportunities while on an empty stomach. We can fix this.”– Rep. Andy Vargas, Democrat – 3rd Essex
For more information about our coalition, college hunger and legislation, check out our HFCC Information Sheet: