Back to school season looks and feels different this year than ever before. As colleges and universities begin classes, much of the rhetoric in higher education spaces has been “to Zoom or not to Zoom”. But if students cannot meet their basic needs, then whether they are at a two-year or four-year institution, in dorms or off-campus, working or learning full-time, caring for family members or maintaining mental health, they will have a hard time succeeding regardless of whether or not classes are virtual.
That’s why Challah for Hunger launched the #FUELHigherEd campaign in light of the changing realities of higher education, the increase in basic needs insecurities, and waterfall economic effects of coronavirus. Food insecurity for college students was the reality for too many before the pandemic and has only been exacerbated by COVID-19.
The #FUELHigherEd campaign advocates for Fundamental, Universal, Equitable, and Long-term state and federal policy solutions to campus hunger by protecting and expanding SNAP benefits for low-income college students and supporting Hunger Free Campus Grant Legislation. In just the first two months of this campaign, we’ve seen an overwhelming response to our call to action. 34 organizations and over 140 individuals have signed on to the campaign, almost 150 actions have been taken, and 250 viewers tuned into our Summer Series.
To build on this momentum, we are offering monthly campaign leader trainings for individuals to lead their communities in collective action. The whole is greater than the sum of our parts: when we align our campuses, cities, or regions around the goals of our campaign, we are more likely to get our foot in the door with our elected officials. For our campaign sponsors, please also join us for monthly partner meetings to amplify our actions and build strategic state alignments.
While back to school looks different for everyone, for many, the experience of not knowing where to get the next meal remains a reality. The solutions to the economic challenges we build now to support students must be long standing to exist after the pandemic. Students can’t thrive with supports that only last a semester, and dialogue needs to continue after the back-to-school newscycle dissipates. When we #FUELHigherEd, we are amplifying to our elected officials that student hunger is real, was real before the pandemic, and requires centering student experiences in our policies.
Thank you for committing to advocate with us. We are just getting started.