TRENTON — Last month, almost half of all college students in the country were unsure of where their next meal would come from.

That statistic is one of the reasons legislators last week advanced a bill that will ensure access to food on college campuses.

The bill, which made is making its way through the Assembly, will establish a program to provide grants to institutions designated by the Secretary of Higher Education as “hunger-free campuses.”

“College meal plans can be costly for many families and students, and this grant money will significantly help our hard-working students who are in need of food assistance while they are getting an education,” said bill sponsor Benjie E. Wimberly, D-Bergen, Passaic.

To be deemed a hunger-free campus, the institution is required to establish a campus hunger task force; designate a staff member responsible for assisting students with enrollment in the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; provide options for students to use SNAP benefits; provide at least one physical food pantry on campus; and develop a Swipe Out Hunger student meal credit sharing program.

Some colleges are already implementing programs to help students with food insecurity.

Locally, Stockton University opened a food pantry at its Atlantic City campus last month to help students. Rowan University and Rutgers University-Camden have also opened food pantries in the past two years.

At Rowan, the move came after a campuswide survey in 2017 found at least 15 percent of undergraduates there faced food insecurity, or a lack of access to affordable, healthy food.

Under the law, the secretary of higher education would be required to submit a report to the governor and legislature in two years on the grant program’s impact.

Prior to approval from the Assembly panel, the bill was cleared by the Human Services Committee as part of a 14-bill anti-hunger initiative. It now goes to the Assembly speaker for further consideration.

Other education-related bills

Another bill that advanced recently will establish a pilot program in the Department of Education to recruit men from a disadvantaged or minority background to teach in New Jersey schools under the alternate route teacher preparation program. The bill next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

A bipartisan bill to establish a campus sexual assault commission has advanced in the Senate. Under the bill, co-sponsored by local legislator Sen. Chris Brown, the commission would implement policies and practices to end campus sexual assault.

A related bill, which also advanced, would require universities in the state to continue to follow the guidelines for handling sexual assault laid out by the Obama administration. It also requires both public and private institutions of higher education to report the total number of allegations made by or against students, along with a summary of its efforts in responding to the allegations. Both bills head to the full Senate for further consideration.

Bipartisan legislation to provide New Jersey law enforcement with the resources it needs to protect local schools passed the Senate Education Committee. The bill would require school boards to provide law enforcement with copies of blueprints and maps of schools and school grounds.

The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee also passed an expansion of a 2016 law creating class III officers to include retired officers who have served in federal or bi-state agencies, such as the Port Authority.

In addition, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would prohibit school districts from denying students admittance due to tardiness, violation of dress code or school uniform policy. The school can however, prohibit students from wearing clothing, apparel or accessories indicating the membership or affiliation of any gang associated with criminal activities.

Cumberland college employees sign agreement with AFT

Previously unaffiliated union locals representing more than 60 administrative, student support, information technology and advising positions at Cumberland County College have voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, the largest higher education union in the state.

Academic adviser Steve Stolar, a 38-year employee at Cumberland, is the president of a 41-person Administrators Association of Cumberland County College-AFT. Senior administrative assistant Linda Scully is the president of the Federated Association of Cumberland Employees, which represents 21 workers.

American Federation of Teachers New Jersey represents more than 30,000 education workers from pre-kindergarten through higher education.

Atlantic Cape Restaurant Gala at Harrah’s Resort

MAYS LANDING — Tickets are now on sale for the 36th annual Atlantic Cape Community College Restaurant Gala.

The gala, which is a major fundraiser for the Atlantic Cape Foundation and provides culinary students with thousands of dollars in scholarships, will be held Thursday, March 14, at Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center in Atlantic City.

This year’s event, themed Recipe for Success, will honor Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino, and Kelsey and Kimberly Jackson, owners of Kelsey’s and Kelsey & Kim’s.

Tickets are $225 per person or a discounted rate of $2,500 per table of 12 and can be ordered by contacting Kristin Jackson at 609-463-3621 or or by visiting

Summer tuition discount at Stockton

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The Stockton Board of Trustees approved discounted summer tuition rates at its Dec. 5 meeting. Under the summer tuition plan, one four-credit course will cost $1,680 tuition and fees. If students take either two or three courses for 8-12 credits they will pay $3,360, in effect getting one course free if they take three courses. Each additional course would cost $1,680.

To get the special rate, students must take at least one face-to-face or hybrid class at one of Stockton’s instructional sites in Atlantic City, Woodbine, Manahawkin or Hammonton.

OLMA students get inside-out look at disaster simulation

NEWFIELD — Three students from Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Newfield recently participated in the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s mass casualty simulation.

Freshman Maggie Douglas and seniors Atira Smith and Hannah Silverman acted as victims in the simulation, a learning exercise that takes place twice annually at the Helene Fuld Pavilion for Innovative Learning in Philadelphia.

“Students practice patient care using simulated patient situations,” said Katie Douglas, simulation instructor and facilitator, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. “It’s real-life learning that’s fast-paced, high-energy and extremely effective.”

Afterward, the students participated in the debriefing.

“This type of hands-on learning is invaluable,” said Brooke A. Coyle, OLMA head of school.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Contact: 609-272-7251

Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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