Students Advocate For California Campus Hunger Legislation

Recently, Challah for Hunger and student leaders representing seven of our chapters in California submitted a letter of support for a California bill that would cover the cost of a college meal plan, worth 10 meals per week for low-income college students attending public universities and colleges in the state. Read our letter of support and review a fact sheet for the bill here.

Hunger and food insecurity on the college campus is an urgent issue in California: according to California State University (CSU), one in five CSU students experience hunger and one in ten experience homelessness. Surveys of students in the University of California (UC) System found that 42% of surveyed students were food insecure.

Nationwide, California has set the gold standard for addressing college food insecurity through state policy. This bill (SB 1275) is another important step forward because it builds on previous legislation that provided higher education institutions with new tools to draw down federal resources and coordinated efforts between officials on and off-campus who help students access SNAP (food assistance).

To be sure, a meal plan is not a shield against hunger.  A nationwide survey revealed that 40% of community college students and one-quarter of students at four-year universities with a meal plan were food insecure in the past month preceding the survey.

However, we support the bill because it recognizes the reality of high college costs. Especially at public institutions, students’ greatest needs are related to living expenses (e.g food, housing, transportation, books) rather than tuition. SB 1275 awards funds to cover the cost of meals for low-income students, reducing a financial burden for hard-working individuals who overcame significant obstacles to get into college.

We hope that other states follow in California’s footsteps and want to thank our student advocates at the following chapters for their support: San Diego State University, Scripps College, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, and UC San Diego.