SECTION 1. Chapter 15A of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following after Section 45:
Section 46: Hunger-Free Campus Program
(a). There shall be a grant program to be managed by the department to be known as the Massachusetts Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program, herein the program, for the purpose of providing grants to the state’s public higher education institutions to address student food insecurity and hunger.
Using funding allocated under the grant program, the department is authorized to hire a director of the program who shall report to the commissioner. The director, in consultation with the commissioner shall develop guidelines and procedures governing the grant making process and the program. In developing the program, the department shall use existing data pertaining to student hunger and, in its discretion may conduct any additional surveys the department deems necessary to understand existing gaps in addressing student food insecurity and hunger on public higher education campuses across the commonwealth. The department may use funding allocated under the grant program for any additional surveys it undertakes.
The guidelines and procedures that govern the program shall specify any requirements applicable to public higher education institutions in order to apply and qualify for grants under the program, including without limitation (i) whether the institution has designated campus staff to interface with the department; (ii) the existence and extent of any campus-level hunger awareness programs, including notification to eligible students of their rights to participate in government-sponsored food assistance programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits, and other federal and state nutrition benefits available to said student or dependents; (iii) whether the institution has established any requirements for on-campus meal vendors to accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); (iv) the existence of, or the development of, a student meal credit sharing program in which students can utilize either unused or donated meal credits from other students; (v) income-based standards by which grant levels are determined according to the student population at each participating campus; and (vi) any other pertinent criteria as developed by the department. These grants are available only to public higher education campuses as determined by the department in accordance with this chapter.
Using funding allocated under the program, the department shall develop and deliver technical assistance to assist the public institutions of higher education to meet the requirements set forth in the guidelines and procedures developed above. Technical assistance may include without limitation (A) resource and materials development, (B) consultation, (C) training, and (D) guidance on maximizing the commonwealth’s participation in existing programs at the federal, state, and local levels to mitigate food insecurity among students.
(b) Subject to appropriation, the department shall award grants to institutions that have met the guidelines and procedures established by the department. Upon recommendation by the director of the program, the commissioner, or a designee, shall determine the amount of each grant which shall be used by the institution to address food insecurity among its students in accordance with the program.
The department shall also establish reporting guidelines for public higher education institution that are the recipients of grants that include, without limitation, a detailed description pertaining to the uses of such grants and the outcomes and results from such grants.
(c) The department shall submit an annual report by July 1 on the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program for the preceding fiscal year to the governor and the chairs of the Joint Committee on Higher Education.
The report shall include a comprehensive assessment of the program for the applicable year, including without limitation: (i) identifying the institutions participating in the program; (ii) describing the activities that have occurred on participating campuses in response to hunger and food insecurity in students; (iii) the level of student engagement in activities; and (iv) the outcomes resulting from activities.
The report shall also provide information on hunger-free campus grantmaking, including: (A) the number and amounts of the grant awards, (B) the recipients of such awards; (C) the activities supported by awards; (D) the impact of the program in reducing the number of students experiencing food insecurity; and (E) recommendations on any changes to the program.
SECTION 2. Chapter 29 of the General Law is hereby amended by inserting after section 2OOOOO the following new section:-
Section 2PPPPP. (a) There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund to be known as the Massachusetts Hunger-Free Campus Grant Trust Fund, herein the fund. The fund shall be administered by the commissioner of the department of higher education. The fund shall be credited with: (i) revenue from appropriations or other money authorized by the general court and specifically designated to be credited to the fund; (ii) interest earned on such revenues; and (iii) funds from public and private sources such as gifts, grants and donations. Amounts credited to the fund shall not be subject to further appropriation and any money remaining in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not revert to the General Fund.
(b) Amounts credited to the fund shall be used to fund grants made pursuant to the program, and for the cost of administration of such program by the department of higher education.
(c) Amounts received from private sources shall be approved by the commissioner of higher education and subject to review before being deposited in the fund to ensure that pledged funds are not accompanied by conditions, explicit or implicit, on the implementation of the Massachusetts Hunger-free College Grant Program that may be detrimental to the program. The review shall be made publicly available.
(d) Annually, not later than October 1, the commissioner shall report to the clerks of the house of representatives and senate, the joint committee on higher education, and the house and senate committees on ways and means on the fund's activity. The report shall include, but not be limited to: (i) the source and amount of funds received; (ii) the amounts distributed and the purpose of expenditures from the fund; (iii) any grants provided to institutions of higher education and other stakeholder organizations; and (iv) anticipated revenue and expenditure projections for the next year.
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