A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats to establish a program that would provide grants to colleges designated by the Secretary of Higher Education as hunger-free college campuses received final legislative approval on Thursday with the Senate voting 33-0-7.
The grants provided under Assembly Bill 4702 aim to help colleges address hunger statewide, leverage more sustainable solutions to address basic food needs on campus, raise awareness for available food services, and continue to build strategic partnerships at the local, state and national levels to address food insecurity among students.
To be deemed a hunger-free campus, the institution is required to establish a campus hunger task force that meets a minimum of three times per academic year to set at least two goals with action plans; designate a staff member responsible for assisting students with enrollment in the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); provide options for students to utilize SNAP benefits at campus stores, which must be authorized by a federal authority to accept SNAP dollars; provide at least one physical food pantry on campus, or enable students to receive food through a separate, stigma-free arrangement; and develop a “Swipe Out Hunger” student meal credit sharing program, or designate a certain amount of funds for free meal vouchers that might otherwise be raised through a “Swipe Out Hunger” program.
The legislation is sponsored by Democrats Benjie Wimberly, 35th District; Mila Jasey, 27th District; Raj Mukherji, 33rf District; and Yvonne Lopez, 19th District.
“Hunger does not discriminate,” Wimberly said in a statement. “It affects all types of people – from those living in small communities to those living on college campuses. College meal plans can be costly for many families and students, and this grant money will significantly help our hard-working students who are in need of food assistance while they are getting an education.”
The measure now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy.