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Story Basic Needs Initiative

Governor Signs Bill Addressing Homelessness, Hunger Among College Students

Elizabeth Chapin


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A new state law will complement the California State University's own efforts to address the issue of hunger and homelessness among college students.

AB 1747, drafted by California State Assemblymember Shirley Weber and signed by Governor Brown September 12, requires that California higher education institutions apply to participate in local food assistance programs. It also establishes funding accounts for college food pantries as part of the state's Emergency Food Assistance Program.

The legislation comes on the heels of a CSU-led study examining student food and housing insecurity throughout the 23-campus system. The study was commissioned by the CSU in April 2015 with the aim to develop systemic solutions that enable students to succeed and graduate.

The research, led by CSU Long Beach Professor Rashida Crutchfield, tapped the perceptions and understa nding of these issues among students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Results revealed that one in five CSU students experience food insecurity and one in 12 experience housing displacement.

"I'm very pleased that California has taken this step forward in support of our students in higher education," Crutchfield said. "As we learned from the CSU study, food insecurity is an issue that has to be addressed on many fronts. The passage of AB 1747 reaffirms and supports the commitment the CSU has made to ensure student success by enabling students greater access to affordable healthy food."

Students who are food insecure cannot pay for nutritious food or are forced to regularly skip meals, and those who experience housing displacement lacked a stable, permanent, physical address. Many students don't disclose that they have issues because of the associated stigma, or are not even aware that they are facing food or housing insecurity.

Given the scope of this issue and its impact on students, the CSU has since developed online resource tools for campuses and students. In addition, the Chancellor's Office hosted the CSU's first annual Housing and Food Instability Conference in June 2016 to establish viable and replicable policies and practices to serve housing displaced and food insecure students.

The CSU is currently leading additional research to identify best practices with the intent of initiating and scaling those campus-based pilot projects. Crutchfield, who led the initial phase of the study, will join Humboldt State Professor Jennifer Maguire to implement this phase of research, which includes a systemwide student survey with results expected in early 2018.​​

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