The Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs Committee voted unanimously during its meeting Monday to begin a campaign that would make UW-Madison a food stamp-friendly campus.
Originally proposed by UW-Madison fifth-year student Brooke Evans, the initiative would allow students to use food stamps at university dining halls and other eating areas on campus.
Evans asked the committee to help with creating and lobbying for a bill that would permit food stamps to be used on campus, as well as drafting a UW System proposal to present to the Board of Regents and an additional proposal specific to UW-Madison.
According to Evans, there is a growing population of students who use food stamps at UW-Madison, and the initiative would work to ensure that using food stamps would not be “an ‘otherized’ form of adversity.”
If a student who uses food stamps is studying with friends and needs a dinner break, Evans said, it could be an “awkward” issue for that student to leave campus to be able to purchase a meal with food stamps.
Evans also said UW-Madison should become accessible and adaptable to this student demographic because it would allow these students to eat in proximity to their peers, and the university has a responsibility to expose other students to socioeconomic diversity.
“That’s our job, and I don’t think we’ve been doing it sufficiently well,” Evans said.
Evans added that hardware and technology used to pay with food stamps comes free from the state, and if UW-Madison moved forward with this initiative, the university would be among the first five institutions within the country to do so.
Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Carmen Gosey said although details of the initiative have not yet been decided, Monday’s vote determined that the committee would begin to pursue options.
UPDATE April 16, 8:31 a.m.: This article was updated to clarify that the bill being drafted has not yet reached Wisconsin legislature, but is currently being worked on by Evans.