Adjusting and Forging Ahead
During 2020, our team had become an important part of the University’s efforts in becoming a designated Hunger-Free campus, a goal that we had been envisioning since the Hunger Free Campus Act was first introduced in New Jersey in 2018, and introduced the classification. Our role in this effort has been mainly focused on the monitoring of student food security status, as the schools first recurring attempt at auditing food security, and finding ways to help connect students to food resources.
Some of the work of our task force was postponed during 2020, as our partners within the university dining operations were scaling down for a year with fewer students, and as we all tried to adjust to the remote campus environment. Additionally, the original funding made available by the Hunger Free Campus Act had been used by the state for pandemic relief as well, which had slowed our progress in achieving the Hunger-Free designation.
Thankfully, so far this year, we have been able to reconvene our task force and really hit the ground running as our students and staff return campus. We have just been informed that New Jersey is reopening funding for the hunger-free campus grants program. As a part of the task force, we are planning to apply for both the hunger-free campus designation and state funding to permanently cement policy and environmental changes to the campus that will help address student food needs on campus. We hope to apply for more funding so that we can help eligible students enroll in SNAP and hopefully make changes to some of the vendors on campus so we can eventually provide at least one recognized SNAP vendor for our campus community.
In the meantime, our active monitoring of student food security is set to continue, and we are very excited to the possibility of reopening our community garden this summer. We look forward to sharing more progress soon, and really hope to have official policy resolved for the start of the upcoming academic year.
About the Grantee
The team at Montclair State is based out of the Division of University Facilities and the Campus Community Garden. We're combining efforts on this grant project to improve food security and pedestrian safety on campus. Our core team consists of Adeline Cochran, Sustainability Coordinator and Chris Snyder, MPH, Garden Founder/Coordinator.