CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS HUNGER AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS

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[College News]
California Congressman Jimmy Gomez: “Across the United States, many college students are skipping meals while others are going whole days without eating because they lack the means to support themselves. These students – many of whom are from low-income families and have worked tirelessly for their higher education – deserve access to basic necessities like healthy meals without having to choose between going hungry and compromising their academic standings."
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) introduced legislation to address the growing crisis of food insecurity among college students across the country.

The Enhanced Access to SNAP Act (or EATS Act) would amend the Food and Nutrition Act to include “attending an institution of higher education” as a form of qualification, expanding SNAP eligibility to millions of college students experiencing hunger on a daily basis.

A recent study by the Government Accountability Office found that 39 percent of all low-income students experience food insecurity with approximately 31 percent of those students being first-generation college students. The study also showed that college students experiencing hunger have a harder time succeeding in school. By expanding SNAP benefits to college students facing food insecurity, the EATS Act will increase the likelihood these students – especially low-income and first-generation students – will graduate with a degree.

“Across the United States, many college students are skipping meals while others are going whole days without eating because they lack the means to support themselves,” said Congressman Gomez. “These students – many of whom are from low-income families and have worked tirelessly for their higher education – deserve access to basic necessities like healthy meals without having to choose between going hungry and compromising their academic standings. Through the passage of the EATS Act, we can help lighten the financial burden college students have to bare, help them prioritize their academic success, and make the ‘starving college student’ stereotype a thing of the past.”

A lot of my students at Modesto Junior College told me about having to skip meals because they couldn’t afford to make ends meet – we can do better than that in the United States of America,” said Congressman Josh Harder, a member of the House Agriculture and Education and Labor Committees. “Our bill will make sure these kids get the healthy food they need to get through school and on to their careers without having to choose between buying books and buying dinner.”

"When a low-income person in our country makes it to college, it is because they have done everything we ask of them, in addition to overcoming great barriers along the way,” said Jessica Bartholow of the Western Center on Law & Poverty. “We shouldn’t let something as simple to solve as hunger undermine them and our investment in their education. But without the change made by the EATS Act, our country's best defense against hunger - the SNAP program - will remain out of reach for too many. We are so grateful for its introduction and look forward to working with the sponsors, college student leaders who are organizing on this issue across the country and our anti-hunger allies to secure its passage."

“We appreciate Representatives Gomez and Harder's efforts to close the college student hunger gap,” said Ellen Vollinger, Legal Director of the Food Research & Action Center. “His bill will provide access to SNAP benefits for more struggling low-income college students. That access to SNAP will promote college students' food security and health now and help them stay on a path to complete their educations and look forward to brighter futures.”

Original co-sponsors:

Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA-31)

Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)

Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24)

Rep. Tony Cardenas (CA-29)

Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20)

Rep. Gil Cisneros (CA-39)

Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46)

Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16)

Rep. TJ Cox (CA-21)

Rep. Danny Davis (IL-07)

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)

Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07)

Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04)

Rep. Vicente González (TX-15)

Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-01)

Rep. Josh Harder (CA-10)

Rep. Katie Hill (CA-25)

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA-04)

Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13)

Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33)

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)

Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-06)

Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02)

Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04)

Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05)

Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ-06)

Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-07)

Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02)

Rep. Harley Rouda (CA-48)

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)

Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA-38)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28)

Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09)

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (NY-03)

Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15)

Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41)

Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)

Rep. Norma Torres (CA-35)

Rep. Filemón Vela (TX-34)

The following organizations have endorsed the EATS Act:

Alameda County Community Food Bank, Associated Students of the University of California, California Association of Food Banks, California Food Policy Advocates, California Homeless Youth Project, California Hunger Action Coalition, California Work & Family Coalition, Center for Civil Justice Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Center for Public Policy Priorities, Child Care Law Center Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) of California, Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), Faith Action Network of WA State, Feeding San Diego, Florida Legal Services Inc, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Food for People Food Lifeline, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, Hunger Action LA, Hunger Free Colorado, Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles, Kentucky Equal Justice Center, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN,) Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Maternal and Child Health Access, Mississippi Center for Justice National Alliance on Mental Illness, Texas, National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – California National Education Association, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, Northwest Harvest OC Food Bank, Oregon Food Bank, Parent Voices – California Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, Pasadena City College, Rise Togethe,r San Diego Hunger Coalition, San Francisco & Marin Food Bank, SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, SEIU – California, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Skills2Compete-Colorado, The Kohala Center – Hawaii, The Tennessee Justice Center, Three Square Food Bank, uAspire, University of California Student Association, Vermont Legal Aid, Inc., Voices for Progress, Washington Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Women Foundation of California, WORK EQUITY California ,Young Invincibles

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