PUBLISHED: March 4, 2022 at 6:09 p.m. | UPDATED: March 4, 2022 at 7:21 p.m.
Students shouldn’t go hungry.
That’s what a new bill from Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, and Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-San Pedro, aims to ensure doesn’t happen.
The Food for Thought Act, introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 3, would authorize the secretary of education to make grants to colleges and universities to provide free meals to low-income students.
“Students who are impacted by hunger simply cannot participate in school as fully as students who have reliable access to food,” a press release from Schiff’s office said. “The Food for Thought Act will help eliminate this barrier for countless college students and ensure that students have access to nutritious meals.”
Schiff and Barragan visited Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday to discuss the act and tour the campus’ community urban garden farm — which distributes produce to on-campus programs that support students experiencing food insecurity.
Reps. Adam Schiff and Nanette Barragan are joined by CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham to introduce and discuss with students their new Food for Thought Act, which would help end hunger on community colleges and minority-serving institutions, during a visit of the school’s community urban farm in Carson on Friday, March 4, 2022. (Photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)
Nearly 38% of community college students reported experiencing food insecurity, according to a study conducted last year by the Hope Center, a research center affiliated with Temple University. Of the 195,000 students surveyed nationwide, 58% reported experiencing basic needs insecurity — meaning that more than half do not have a reliable food source or living situation.
The study also found that food insecurity is reported more often for students attending two-year colleges, students of color, LGBTQ students and students who don’t have financial support from their families.
“Food insecurity disproportionately impacts students of color on college campuses,” Barragán said in the press release, “and is often exacerbated by additional expenses such as tuition, books, and housing.”
Universities would be able to use Food for Thought Act grant funds to conduct campus outreach to better understand food insecurity in their student population, the press release said.
And funds could be used to operate on-campus food pantries or community gardens, or to provide food infrastructure — like microwaves and refrigerators — for students.
“The Food for Thought Act will help ease the burden of hunger for potentially hundreds of thousands of young people,’ Schiff said, “so that they can focus fully on their studies and their futures.”
The Food for Thought Act would also require grantees to collect and report food insecurity data on their campuses to help expand national anti-hunger programming, and to help “end student hunger as we know it,” the press release said.