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Brown University Makes Policy Changes to Address Food Insecurity

To tackle food insecurity among its student body, Brown University is rolling out new measures to provide accessible and healthy food to all.

Starting in the 2019-2020 academic year, the university will provide meals to all students who remain on campus during spring break at no additional cost. The school will also require all sophomores to enroll in at least a 14-meal plan, and will encourage them to enroll in a 20-meal plan or a “Flex 460” plan, which provides the maximum number of meal options.

At Brown, students have the ability to choose from 10 meal plans, including Kosher and Halal options. A registered dietitian on staff plans menus and assists students who have special dietary needs and food allergies.

“We know that students on campuses across the country, including at Brown, experience varying degrees of food insecurity,” Richard M. Locke, university provost, said.

“We’re committed to addressing these issues so that all students are able to take full advantage of their Brown educational experiences without the challenge of worrying about costs, logistics or time needed to access healthy food options.”

The latest changes were made in accordance with recommendations from a working group that studied and reviewed the causes and prevalence of food insecurity among undergraduate, graduate and medical students at Brown.

The 2018 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office identified a trend of rising food insecurity among college students amid the rising costs of college, lesser availability of state and federal grants, and an increasing percentage of students from low-income families enrolling in U.S. colleges.

“Many students, particularly first-generation and low-income students, have expressed how difficult and stressful it is to find food on campus when they have to stay at Brown for break,” Shanze Tahir, president of Brown’s Undergraduate Council of Students, said.

“Decreasing food insecurity on campus has a positive impact on the entire Brown student community, as having reliable access to food is a basic right that every student should have and feel assured about,” Tahir added.

Moving forward, the university also plans to launch a tailored meal plan pilot program, targeted at graduate students to make affordable groceries more accessible.

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