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

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.”

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 Together

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

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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