In A Flash

‘Hunger-free campus’ program may soon come to Louisiana colleges

By: - April 19, 2022 4:12 pm

Louisiana college students struggling with getting enough food could soon get support from their universities. A bill to establish the “Hunger-Free Campus” program advanced Tuesday from the Louisiana House Education Committee.

The proposal’s author, Rep. Barbara Freiberg, R-Baton Rouge, said she was shocked to hear so many college students reported being food insecure. According to a survey by the HOPE Center, four out of 10 Louisiana college students reported being food insecure, which the federal government defines as someone in a household with limited or uncertain access to adequate nutrition.

The survey also found one-third of students in the state did not have enough money to buy food and 20% lost weight because they couldn’t afford to eat.

Freiberg’s bill would have the Louisiana Board of Regents establish a grant program that would send money to colleges designated as “hunger-free campuses.” To receive the designation, a college would have to:

  • establish a Hunger-Free Campus task force;
  • notify students who receive need-based financial aid of their potential eligibility to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits;
  • hold or participate in at least one anti-hunger awareness event per academic year; and
  • assess the need for an on-campus food pantry

Higher education leaders echoed to the committee that food insecurity was a “significant issue” for their students.

Chris Broadwater, vice president for workforce policy for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said the program would be “a small step forward, but a very important one” in fighting food insecurity on college campuses.

“We have to figure out how we’re meeting all of these needs” of students, he told the committee.

Jim Henderson, president of the University of Louisiana System, said food insecurity is a problem “hidden in our society that people don’t like to talk about.”

“When I was a student, I could work 300 hours over the course of summer and pay for my entire college education the next year,” Henderson said. “Today, a student would have to work almost 2,000 hours to come close to just the tuition and fees to go to school.”

Frieberg’s bill will move to the House floor.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is an award-winning journalist at The Louisiana Illuminator. Canicosa has previous experience at Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.