(BOSTON) – At a hearing held this week by the Joint Committee on Higher Education, legislators and advocates testified on behalf of H.1350/S.847, An Act establishing a community college campus hunger pilot program filed by Representatives Joan Meschino (D-Hull) and Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem). The legislation would create a $2.7 million noncompetitive grant program administered by the Department of Higher Education (DHE) to fund state community colleges’ pilot initiatives to tackle hunger on campuses.

These companion bills are refiles and were reported favorably by the committee last session.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) began campus surveys of student hunger and homelessness in 2014. A 2018 HOPE Lab survey of Massachusetts public college students found that 45% of students at two-year colleges had experienced some degree of food insecurity within the thirty-day period preceding the survey. Multiple studies and surveys have also confirmed that food insecurity is linked to lower attendance rates, lower GPAs, greater likelihood of withdrawing from school, and lower overall graduation rates.

“My participation on the DHE’s Basic Needs Security Advisory Committee has informed my understanding of the stark inequities students experience with basic needs, including food,” said Representative Meschino. “This legislation is critical to addressing student hunger on community college campuses and supporting all our students to earn a degree and attain future success.”

The bill is pending before the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and now awaits action by the committee.

Representative Joan Meschino Testifying at Joint Committee on Education Hearing 6/8/21