President Eddinger Testifies for Hunger Free Campus Initiative Legislation
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Joint Committee on Higher Education holds hearing at Mass. State House
On Monday, September 18, Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger testified at a hearing of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education on behalf of legislation that would combat food insecurity on college campuses across the state.
“I am here today because my students are too often hungry, too often compromising on nutrition, and too often forced to make choices between food and other necessities like rent, transportation, or books,” Eddinger testified in part. “...Food insecurity goes beyond any one college and any one food pantry— with an estimated seventy thousand food insecure community college students in our Commonwealth according to the most recent data, we need comprehensive, state-wide solutions.”
The legislation, the Hunger Free Campus Initiative (S. 835/H. 1293), is currently being considered by the Massachusetts Legislature. The bill would establish an office within the Department of Higher Education responsible for helping colleges end campus food insecurity. It would help students who qualify apply for and obtain SNAP or WIC benefits and help establish SNAP EBT vendors on campus and meal-sharing programs.
Food insecurity is a growing problem in higher education. According to the Greater Boston Food Bank, 37% of public college students in Massachusetts are food insecure, defined as the consistent lack of access to sufficient food or quality of food needed to meet one’s basic needs.
BHCC has been a leader in combating food insecurity on campus, establishing the DISH food pantry, which now serves hundreds of students, distributing more than 55,000 pounds of food last year and averaging 41 daily visits. However, as Eddinger stated in her testimony, “We cannot food pantry our way out of this problem.”
“Massachusetts has been a leader in addressing food insecurity in education. We are now one of a small number of states that provides universal free meals to primary and secondary school students,” Eddinger testified. “But the impact of food insecurity does not end when a student goes to college—in fact, the demands placed on community college students make ending food insecurity even more important.”
For the bill to advance, the Joint Committee on Higher Education must report on it favorably, at which time the full House and Senate will consider it. You can find your state legislators’ contact information and ask whether they support the Hunger Free Campus Initiative at malegislature.gov.