Reps. Gomez and Harder Introduce Legislation to Address Food Insecurity on College Campuses

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Washington, September 12, 2019 | comments

Washington, DC – 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 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.”

“Among the concerns college students face today, hunger and food insecurity remain painfully common, even as institutions develop on-campus basic needs centers to address this need,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano. “Students across the country—especially those who are first-generation, non-traditional or have less access to resources—stand to benefit from the updates that the EATS Act will provide to outdated regulations that currently prevent thousands of students from accessing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and I am encouraged to see Congress recognize the need to make this change.”


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. John Lewis (GA-05), 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 Sánchez (CA-38), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), Rep. Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), Rep. Darren Soto (FL-09), Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14), 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. Lori Trahan (MA-03), Rep. Filemón Vela (TX-34)

The following organizations have endorsed the EATS Act:

Alameda County Community Food Bank
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
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
End Hunger Connecticut!
Equal Rights Advocates (ERA)
Faith Action Network of WA State
Feeding San Diego
Florida Legal Services, Inc.
Food Bank of Alaska
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
Hunger Free Vermont
Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles
Kentucky Equal Justice Center
The Kohala Center – Hawaii
Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN)
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Maternal and Child Health Access
MAZON | A Jewish Response to Hunger
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 Together
San Diego Food Bank
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
Swipe Out Hunger
The Tennessee Justice Center
Three Square Food Bank
uAspire
The University of California
University of California Graduate and Professional Council
University of California Student Association
Vermont Legal Aid, Inc.
Virginia Poverty Law Center
Voices for Progress
Washington Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition
Western Center on Law & Poverty
Women Foundation of California
WORK EQUITY, California
Young Invincibles

Click here to read the legislation in its entirety.

To learn more about the EATS Act, please contact Eric Harris, Communications Director and Senior Advisor for Congressman Gomez.

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