Lauren Marnel Shores
Campus Beat Reporter
On Wednesday, Associated Students Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of SB 1275, the Plan Against College Hunger Act of 2018. SB 1275, which California Senate Committee on Education passed the same day, awards eligible students the amount for 10 meal swipes a week in an effort to combat food insecurity within college campuses.
Under this program, “all students attending a public postsecondary educational institution with an enrollment status of half-time or more and who are eligible for a Cal Grant [B] award” will qualify for an award worth the amount of 10 free dining common meals per week.
“It’s a great bill supporting food insecurity, which as we all know, is a huge issue on UC campuses with UC tuition already being so high and threatening to be raised even more,” said A.S. Senator Brooke Kopel, co-author of the resolution.
According to the UC Regents Student Food Access and Security Study in 2016, 19 percent of UC student respondents were reported to have a “lack of money or other resources [that] limits their access to adequate food.” An additional 23 percent of students were reported to have “reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet.” This means that only 58 percent of students were considered to be “food secure.”
“These students may lack the experience, knowledge, and skills to effectively manage food resources,” the report’s analysis explained. “Additionally, decreases in state contributions to higher education, increases in tuition and other costs associated with college attendance where not offset by increases in financial aid, as well as changes in federal financial aid policies, may affect students’ ability to afford nutritious food.”
“The state of California has neglected to invest in meeting the basic needs [and] demands of students who attend institutions of public higher education across the state,” the resolution states. “The depreciation of grants and loans, the burden of housing costs, and a lack of state financial investment in the UC system all further limit a student’s ability to afford food.”
“Food insecurity is a problem that plagues our UC, and across UC campuses,” said A.S. Senator Sophia Dycaico, co-author of the resolution. “The reason it’s 10 meals versus more than that is because if you do more than 10 meals you wouldn’t qualify for EBT or Calfresh and we want to make sure students can still qualify that but have something else to offset that as well because we know EBT can help, but it doesn’t fully alleviate all the costs of that.”
Over spring break, Lobby Corps sent 40 students to Sacramento to lobby for this bill alongside students across the UC system. There, State Senator Henry Stern, author of SB 1275, asked UC Associated Students to endorse the bill.
“He’s asking every single UC to run it through senate,” said Madeline Loudon, co-chair of Lobby Corps and student sponsor of the resolution. “This is a really, really unique opportunity where the state is actually showing investment, utilizing our resources to push their support and their agenda for students. I think this is a really awesome opportunity for us to get more involved in legislation that is going to have a real impact.”
Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear the bill later this month.Throughout this process, Stern and his staff will partner with the California Student Aid Commission to ensure that the Plan Against College Hunger Program will fit with the grants program.