While the issue of hunger in higher education is not new, students still face a number of unique barriers that prevent them from accessing the resources that so many low-income Marylanders rely. For example, off-campus pantries can be challenging to reach, and stigma plays a huge role in preventing many students from seeking help outside of their college community. Additionally, although the most recent COVID-19 relief package temporarily waived barriers for students accessing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), eligibility requirements can still be challenging to navigate without guidance from SNAP application specialists.
That’s why Delegate Debra Davis and Senator Mary Washington have introduced the Hunger-Free Grant Program (HB 891/SB 767). This returning bill seeks to create a state-funded matching grant program that will provide higher education institutions with funding to address food insecurity in their campus community. These grant dollars would be administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission and go towards efforts such as establishing a Hunger-Free Task Force; designating staff to connect eligible students with SNAP application assistance and local SNAP retailers; establishing a system for stigma-free access to community food resources; raising awareness for food insecurity through campus events in order to reduce stigma; and creating a meal plan swipe sharing program that allows students to donate unused swipes to fellow students in need.
If passed, Maryland will be taking a critical step in ensuring that students are not forced to suffer hunger or its negative outcomes because of their pursuit of higher education.
- Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program Fact Sheet
- FRAC Blog: Passing a Hunger-Free Campus Bill in Maryland
- The Hope Center’s #RealCollege 2020 Report
- The Food Access and Student Well-being Study conducted by the University of Maryland
- Join our organizational sign-on letter by emailing email@example.com or by adding your organization by 12pm on 3/5.
- Submit written testimony:
- The Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program (SB 767) will be heard in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 9th at 1:00pm. The cross-file, HB 891 will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee on March 11th at 1:30pm.
- Written testimony is due by 3pm 2 business days before each hearing and can be submitted online through an My MGA account. Video tutorials for creating a My MGA account and submitting written testimony can be found here.
- Send a letter to your state Delegate/Senator to let them know you support this bill.
- Spread the word on social media with sample social media graphics.
For any additional questions, please email Julia Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org