Building a Movement: Pennsylvania Students Advocate for Food Security
On March 28, 2022, Swipe Out Hunger organized over 115 students from 16 schools across Pennsylvania to lobby for the Hunger Free Campus Bill at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. After months of organizing and advocacy, the Governor signed the state budget on July 8th with $1 million in funding to colleges, becoming the sixth Hunger Free Campus state.
Students are always at the heart and forefront of our movement. It’s not just about a bill — students advocate for thousands of their peers who struggle to meet their basic needs while working tirelessly to earn their degree. In the Philadelphia area alone, 42% of 2 year college students experienced food insecurity in the last year.
At the lobby day in Harrisburg, Temple University student body president Bradley Smutek reminded us that “the issue of food insecurity has not been neglected because we lack the food, or that we lack the resources, it has been neglected because we lack compassion.”
By making their voices heard, students left a lasting impact on current and future generations of college students. Over the last two years, students from every corner of the Keystone state have been reminding Pennsylvania legislators of Bradley’s words. From meeting with elected officials, hosting pantry tours, collecting student postcards, and telling their story, students built the compassion in our legislators and the movement for change that made this victory possible.
Of course, no movement can be formed alone. We joined school administrators, community partners (such as Pennsylvania’s incredible food banks), and powerful leaders like First Lady Frances Wolf, Senator Carolyn Comitta, and Representative Jennifer O’Mara to build support across the state.
While this funding and legislation will make major strides in combating food insecurity amongst Pennsylvania college students, we know the work does not stop here. Students will continue to organize and work with elected officials across the state until we end college student hunger.
Watch the movement unfold in Harrisburg:
Want to get involved in our advocacy efforts to bring Hunger Free Campus to your state? Contact [email protected] to learn more.
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