Assemblyman Jamel Holley has introduced legislation that would make it easier for college students to take action against hunger in New Jersey.
The bill (A-4499) would allow students at public institutions of higher education in New Jersey to donate unused meal plan funds to support local food banks. The measure would create a “New Jersey Emergency Meal Fund” in the Department of State. Donated meal plan funds would support the New Jersey Federation of Food Banks.
The legislation builds on Speaker Vincent Prieto’s commitment to make combating poverty a priority for the General Assembly.
“At the end of the semester, college students sometimes find that they’re nowhere close to using all of their non-refundable meal plan funds. Ultimately, because those funds also are non-transferrable, no one eats food that’s already been paid for,” said Holley (D-Union). “On campuses statewide, students want opportunities to make a difference. Allowing them to donate unused meal plan funds is a simple way to help college students help their communities.”
In addition to helping feed families across the state, the legislation can allow students to assist classmates who lack access to enough food to learn and live active, healthy lives.
“Food insecurity on college campuses is a significant issue for New Jersey students. Recent studies show that approximately 20 percent of college students go hungry because they don’t have the money to buy food,” said Debra Vizzi, president and CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “This legislation is an important step in helping New Jersey food banks feed more hungry young adults on college campuses, and it allows students to get involved and give back to their peers by donating extra points from their meal plans.”
More than 1 million New Jersey residents are food insecure, according to Feeding America. Only half of those residents, however, qualify for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.