College students facing food insecurity on Minnesota college and university campuses would receive crucial assistance under the Hunger-Free Campus Act (SF 1103), which was introduced on February 17. According to survey results of Minnesota college students from 2018-19, 2 in 5 colleges students are facing or have faced food insecurity.
“A student cannot thrive in the classroom, let alone focus on their education if they’re wondering where their next meal will come from,” said chief author of the bill Senator Aric Putnam (DFL-St. Cloud). “No student on any college campus should be facing food insecurity. By funding the Hunger-Free Campus Act, we can provide necessary stability in the lives of our students so not only are they able to succeed in their classes, but also complete their degree or program.”
Under current law, a Hunger-Free Campus is a Minnesota State community and/or technical college that is actively taking strides to reduce food insecurity amongst students. In order to be awarded the Hunger-Free Campus designation, a campus must meet the following minimum criteria:
- Has a food pantry, partnership with a food bank, or some type of food distribution system on campus available to students.
- Has a designated staff person on campus to educate students on SNAP and other public services aimed to reduce food insecurity.
- Provides emergency funds to assist students who may be experiencing basic needs insecurity.
- Has a taskforce dedicated to addressing food insecurity concerns.
- Hosts or participates in at least one hunger awareness event each year.
Senator Putnam’s legislation would extend the Hunger-Free Campus designation to all five campuses within the University of Minnesota system. The bill also would provide funding for Hunger-Free Campus grants to the Office of Higher Education that would help campuses meet the criteria for this designation.
“This is a problem for students throughout the state, and we know that this program has made a real difference,” said Senator Putnam. “Now it is up to us to fund it and ensure that no college student in Minnesota is left wondering where their next meal will come from.”
Since the initial passage of the Hunger-Free Campus Act in 2019, over 16 colleges have earned the designation by serving over 6,596 students through the campus pantries, distributing over 61,600 pounds of food to students, providing emergency assistance funding to 260 students, and more.