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Maryland Could Become Just Third State to Establish Fund Against College Food Insecurity

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — In one of the richest states in the country, nearly 100,000 Maryland college students were fighting food insecurity even before the pandemic added more financial strain. State Sen. Mary Washington is presenting the Hunger-Free Campus Act to the Education, Health, & Environmental Affairs Committee this afternoon to join the small number of states working to support these students. In partnership with the national organization Swipe Out Hunger, the Hunger-Free Campus Act will administer critical state funding for college to combat food insecurity, providing students with all the resources they need to succeed in school and beyond.

“We tell students, ‘Go to college, get a degree, this is the path to success,’ and then we fail to provide the basic resources that would make this possible for tens of thousands of students,” said State Sen. Mary Washington. “The override of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future finally acknowledges that investment in education goes beyond the classroom; it’s about the holistic wellness of our students. This legislation extends that investment to our college campuses, too.”

The Hunger-Free Campus Act establishes a grant for public colleges and universities to build critical infrastructure combatting on-campus food insecurity, including hiring additional staff, expanding outreach, innovating food pantry programming, and delivering meals to students with need.

Swipe Out Hunger, the leading national organization in ending food insecurity on college campuses, advises colleges and universities on the design of commonsense and innovative anti-hunger programs. It has established similar programs at over 130 campuses and provided over two million nutritious meals across 40 states.

“The General Assembly can make it loud and clear to the people of Maryland that our college students’ education and health are of the utmost priority,” said Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger. “The Hunger-Free Campus Act would position Maryland as a shining example, supporting its nearly 100,000 college students who are working hard to earn their degree while also fighting food insecurity.”

The investment is incredibly modest considering the impact the Hunger-Free Campus Act would have for college students across the country. With a price tag of $150,000 a year, Maryland could help fund basic resources to ensure that these students who want to earn a degree, can.

“The Hunger-Free Campus grant is a monumental step that tells our students their needs are valid and heard, and that the State of Maryland is committed not only to their education, but to their full wellbeing,” said Gabrielle Wilson, Campus Pantry Organizer at the University of Baltimore Rosenberg Center for Student Engagement & Inclusion.

This hearing comes on the heels of EHE’s unanimous support for Sen. Washington’s bill to expand the Tuition Exemption for Homeless and Foster Youth across Maryland (SB155). Sen. Washington, a member of EHE, is the only Senator representing Baltimore City.

“Earning a degree and planning your future are hard enough without wondering where you might get your next meal,” said Sen. Washington. “With this legislation, Maryland can become a national leader in funding education policy that actively supports all our students. We can unequivocally say we will not stand for any of our students going hungry.”

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