OKLAHOMA CITY – The Hunger-Free Campus Act, a pilot program addressing post-secondary student hunger in Oklahoma, will receive $200,000 in state appropriations this year.
Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton was able to secure funding through the state budget to create the pilot. He hopes to work with the Regents to promulgate rules for its administration.
"Between tuition and fees and often low-paying jobs or little time for work as they juggle busy class schedules, college students often have plenty on their plate except food," Pae said. "Our goal is to support strategies that combat hunger on college campuses, including outreach to students to provide available resources that will help alleviate food insecurity."
The program would require coordination with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
What program participants are saying:
“Many Oklahoma college students deal with food insecurity. This funding, along with the efforts of our institutions, will help to address these challenges so that our students can achieve their dreams.”
- Chancellor Allison D. Garrett, Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education
“Food is foundational. We know that it is essential to not only fuel minds in the classroom but to also fuel bodies as our post-secondary students prepare to meet the workforce needs of our state. We thank Rep. Daniel Pae for championing food security on post-secondary campuses as well as the Oklahoma legislature believing in the wellbeing of our college students by funding the pilot. We especially appreciate appropriations leaders Sen. Roger Thompson, Rep. Kevin Wallace, Sen. Dewayne Pemberton and Rep. Mark McBride for supporting the vision. This campus hunger pilot program can demonstrate how matching investments in basic needs yields strong return not only on retention and graduation rates, but in our state’s future. We look forward to continuing to partner with post-secondary institutions and our state leaders to tackle student hunger.”
- Oklahoma Food Banks CEOs: Stacy Dykstra of Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Calvin A. Moore of Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
“To build a more thriving state, Oklahoma College students need to have the sustenance to succeed in school. We know that one in three college students are food insecure and legislators in Oklahoma City took a major step this session by providing this essential funding, one that will increase the impact of programs on Oklahoma’s campus and begin a new chapter for thousands of Oklahoma families.”
- Rachel Sumekh, CEO Swipe Out Hunger
“Addressing the most basic needs of our Oklahoma college student allows them to focus on succeeding in and out of the classroom. This funding for the campus hunger pilot helps us do just that. We are so appreciative to Rep. Pae and the Legislature for their support of this program.”
- Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, President, University of Central Oklahoma
The program will pilot two four-year institutions, two regional colleges and universities, and four two-year (or community) institutions in urban, suburban and rural areas of the state. Awardees must be public institutions.
The grant matches up to $25,000 each to four-year universities and colleges and up to $15,000 each to two-year institutions. Each will have flexibility to decide how to best utilize grant funds.
A $40,000 appropriation will go to the Regents for developing criteria for choosing participants, convening a working group of post-secondary institutions to determine metric formulation, administering the grant, and collecting comparative data to share with the Legislature after five years.
In order to receive the Hunger-Free Campus designation, selected institutions must assist students in enrolling in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), among other requirements.
Students who work at least 20 hours per week or participate in a federal or state-financed work-study program are eligible for SNAP. Students with children under six or children ages six to 11 who lack childcare to meet work requirements, and single parents of children under 12 who are enrolled full-time can qualify as well.
Pae said this targeted approach allows the state to gain more insight on campus hunger, explore strategies to mitigate food insecurity and ultimately help boost post-secondary completion rates.