WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-5), a member of the Committee on Education and Labor, introduced the Closing the College Hunger Gap Act with Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). This bill would help collect data on food and housing insecurity on college campuses and connect eligible students with resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to combat food insecurity. The Northwest Connecticut Food Hub supports this legislation.
“No student should ever have to worry about finding the money to put the next meal on the table while in class. Hungry students don’t learn. Food stamps were a life saver for me and my young family – I know from my time in the classroom just how critical it is that students are aware of all of the resources available to help them succeed,” said Congresswoman Hayes.
“After my conversations with students and community groups in Connecticut about food insecurity on college campuses, I had to take decisive action. This bill takes meaningful steps to alleviate college hunger and raise student awareness about existing supports. I look forward to working with the Committee on Education and Labor to make sure that reforms to tackle the growing crisis are included as part of the Higher Education Act Reauthorization,” continued Congresswoman Hayes.
According to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, over 2 million at-risk students – meaning first generation students, students raising children, or low-income students – that were potentially eligible for SNAP benefits did not report receiving benefits and potentially left money on the table in recent years.
Connecticut students are not strangers to the issue of food and housing insecurity – nearly a quarter of students at the University of Connecticut reported concerns of food insecurity and around 30% reported skipping meals to save money. 18% of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities’ student body reported housing instability or homelessness. This spring, Congresswoman Hayes held a roundtable on food insecurity with UConn Waterbury Students, local food pantry directors, college and elected officials to discuss the issue of food insecurity for college students.
Congresswoman Hayes’ bill would ensure that the Department of Education lets lower-income students know about their potential eligibility and application process for SNAP benefits. It also requires that the federal government start to study food and housing insecurity for college students on a federal level – treating these issues as seriously as they deserve and helping to educate future reforms aimed at addressing these growing barriers for students.
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations joined Rep. Hayes as an original cosponsor of the House bill.