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Advocating for Student Basic Needs: A Recap of the Day on the Hill Event

On a recent mission to Lansing, Michigan, the Student Basic Needs Coalition, in collaboration with the Golden Grizzlies Food Pantry at Oakland University, orchestrated an impactful "Day on the Hill" event. This initiative was more than just a gathering; it was a powerful statement to state legislators about the pressing challenges students face, especially regarding food insecurity.


March 19th marked a day of strategic meetings with Michigan's legislators, a vital effort to shed light on the food insecurity that plagues one in three college students in the state. The aim was clear: to draw attention to the need for substantial support and policy reforms. This gathering was particularly timely, focusing on the Hunger Free Campus Act (HFCA), a pivotal piece of legislation authored by Swipe Out Hunger, now on the brink of important appropriation meetings.


Participants engaged in thorough discussions about the HFCA, examining its wide-ranging potential advantages, such as enhanced support services and resources for students facing various basic needs insecurities. A significant aspect of the dialogue centered on the critical role of state-funded grants, which serve as essential support for numerous initiatives aimed at addressing the comprehensive spectrum of student basic needs challenges.


The event was a platform to voice concerns directly to state representatives, particularly those involved with higher education. The student advocates and the food pantry team from Oakland University made their case passionately, emphasizing how critical it is to address college food insecurity.


Paige Swanson, the Co-Executive Director of the Student Basic Needs Coalition, highlighted the importance of the event, stating, "The Day on the Hill represents a critical opportunity for student voices to be heard at the legislative level. We are proud to support students in advocating for this important legislation" 


This sentiment was echoed by the participants, including Bella Levitt, a graduate student assistant at the pantry, who stated, “through this Day on the Hill, we were able to create discussion around the bill in question and bring college food insecurity to the front of the minds of those who represent us throughout the state on the higher education committee.” Through participating in SBNC’s Momentum Institute this fall, Bella learned how to advocate for student basic needs, stating that “as a whole, we were productive in advocating for a policy that will serve college pantries and allow them to provide an increased number of services."


The Day on the Hill was a vivid illustration of advocacy in action, with students and food pantry members sharing their personal experiences and the tangible impacts of basic needs insecurity on their academic and personal lives. Their stories, along with data-driven presentations, aimed to deepen legislators' understanding and spur them into action.


This event signifies a major stride in addressing student basic needs on both institutional and legislative fronts. It underscores the importance of a collaborative approach in ensuring that every student has access to the necessary resources for success. The Student Basic Needs Coalition expresses their heartfelt thanks to all who participated and supported this cause, emphasizing the need for continued advocacy to enact meaningful change for students across Michigan.


To learn more about the initiative or to get involved, visit www.studentbasicneeds.com or reach out for more information. Let's keep the momentum going and ensure that no student has to face the challenges of food insecurity alone.


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