The Food Access and Justice Campaign was launched in the spring of 2017 to address the issue of food insecurity faced by undergraduate and graduate students as the costs associated with seeking a higher education continue to skyrocket. We have worked to raise awareness on campus about the experience of students and work with administrators to address our concerns. In the spring of 2018, the Food Access & Justice campaign expanded grassroots efforts to address food insecurity by forming the Food Access Coalition with the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, People's Market, MassPIRG's Hunger & Homelessness campaign, the Food Recovery Network, and the Americorps VISTA member, and the Food Security Coordinator from the Dean of Students Office.
The Food Access Coalition facilitated efforts to increase food access across campus, with Alpha Phi Omega opening a student-run food pantry in the Student Union, MassPIRG facilitating drives for food and basic needs product donations, the Food Recovery Network providing weekly community meals for students, and CEPA and the Dean of Students Office working on policy initiatives to institutionally address issues of food access and justice. Representatives from the Food Access Coalition are currently in talks with the Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs, UMass Dining, and Financial Aid to create a long-term plan for freezing meal plan costs, rolling back meal plan costs to ensure affordable, accessible, and quality food for all, and creating a Basic Needs Store in the renovated Student Union.
• Collaborated with the Dean of Students Office to write a grant proposal to hire an AmeriCorps VISTA member to build capacity to improve food security among students.
• Promoted Supply Closets around campus that provide basic health and hygiene products to students free of charge.
• Organized screening of the documentary “A Place at the Table” and a panel discussion with professors and student organizers on food insecurity, as both a local and national issue.
• The Coalition organized the Student Food Security Forum to highlight students are impacted by food insecurity.
• The Coalition coordinated and mobilized students for a rally Hampshire Dining to protest the rising cost of meal prices.
• Engaged administrators in discussions about the impact of rising meal plan prices on students’ mental health and campus climate.