410-528-0021, ext. 3018
Statement attributable to Michael J. Wilson, Director, Maryland Hunger Solutions
BALTIMORE, March 4, 2021 – COVID-19 and the unexpected switch to remote learning have negatively impacted college students’ academic performance, mental health, and food security. Hunger on Maryland college campuses is not a new phenomenon, but the pandemic has exacerbated campus food insecurity.
When students are hungry, they cannot learn. Yet many college students in Maryland, including parents, veterans, and those experiencing homelessness, struggle to put food on the table.
Next week, the Maryland General Assembly will hold hearings on two important bills that are critical to ensuring that college students across the state receive the nutrition they need to achieve their educational and economic goals.
HB 891 and SB 767, sponsored by Maryland Del. Debra Davis (D-Charles County) and Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City), would establish a Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program that would be administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). The bills would create a state-funded matching-grant program to provide campuses with the resources to become a “Hunger-Free Campus,” including:
- Establishing a Hunger-Free Task Force;
- Designating staff to connect eligible students with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) application assistance and to local SNAP retailers;
- Providing on-campus food resources, such as pantries, or establishing a system for stigma-free access to existing local community food resources;
- Raising awareness for food insecurity through campus events to reduce stigma; and
- Creating a meal plan swipe-sharing program that allows students to donate unused swipes to other students in need.
A Montgomery College student experiencing food insecurity during her 2020-2021 academic year and representatives from the University of Baltimore Campus Pantry and Anne Arundel Community College campus pantries are expected to share the reality of college hunger during the hearings.
We encourage the General Assembly to pass this legislation. This is a critical first step to ensure a brighter future for our college students and a brighter future for our state.
Maryland Hunger Solutions works to end hunger and improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of children and families in Maryland.