ANNAPOLIS, Md., June 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program bill (SB 767/HB 891) sponsored by Senator Mary Washington and Delegate Debra Davis officially became law after passing the Maryland House of Delegates and unanimously passing the State Senate.
The legislation creates a Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program to be administered by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Grant funds will go towards efforts such as 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 to reduce stigma, and creating a meal plan swipe sharing program that allows students to donate unused swipes to fellow students in need.
Before the pandemic, a Hope Center study found that of Maryland's 167,000 two and four-year students, 39% had experienced food insecurity in previous weeks. During Covid-19, those numbers worsened — with rates of food insecurity reaching between 42% to 56% among students at two-year institutions and 33% to 42% among those at four-year institutions.
"This is an important moment in no longer turning a blind eye to college students facing barriers to critical support programs," said Senator Mary Washington (D-43), the Senate champion for the bill. "Students at two- and four-year institutions continue to face pronounced levels of food insecurity, and this moment sets Maryland down the path to establishing hunger-free campuses throughout the state."
"We have a duty to help students at our state's higher education institutions meet their basic needs so they can excel both in the classroom and once they graduate," said Delegate Debra Davis (D-28), who sponsored the House companion bill. "By passing SB 767, the Maryland General Assembly is making an important investment in our state's academic and economic success."
The new law will take effect in October 2021. Maryland also gave preliminary approval to the State Fiscal 2023 Year Budget, which includes $150,000 for the Hunger-Free Campus program.
"This is a big step forward in addressing food insecurity in our campus communities," said Michael J. Wilson, Director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, the statewide anti-hunger organization that was instrumental in the law's passage. "This is a smart investment in our state's future, and we applaud the state legislature for their thoughtful recognition and support."
Tusk Philanthropies, the family foundation of venture capitalist and political strategist Bradley Tusk, supported Maryland Hunger Solutions in this legislative effort. To date, Tusk Philanthropies has helped secure more than $326 million in federal funding to support regular school meals programs serving nearly 3.9 million food-insecure children in 14 states.
"We know from past economic downturns that higher rates of hunger last long after the country goes back to 'normal.' That's especially true for college kids, who are juggling tuition and housing costs, and often don't have the resources to feed themselves," said Tusk. "We're very glad to see Maryland lawmakers taking action to make sure this vulnerable group gets fed."
About Maryland Hunger Solutions
Maryland Hunger Solutions works to end hunger and improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of children and families in Maryland. To learn more about Maryland Hunger Solution, visit www.mdhungersolutions.org.
About Tusk Philanthropies
Tusk Philanthropies is focused on making sure that people who are hungry have enough food to eat, and on fixing our democracy by making it exponentially easier to vote. Ensuring people have access to food is an immediate problem that the organization addresses every year by funding, developing, and managing legislative campaigns to expand and strengthen access to nutrition programs like Breakfast After the Bell, Universal School Meals, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Tusk Philanthropies has supported legislative efforts for nutrition programs in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington. To learn more, visit tuskphilanthropies.com.
Maryland Hunger Solutions
410-528-0021, ext. 3018
SOURCE Tusk Philanthropies