Helping end food insecurity on campus
37% of the public university/college students in Massachusetts experience food insecurity. That’s why we’re working to end food insecurity on campus by holding food donation drives on campus and advocating for systemic solutions to campus hunger at the university and state level. In spring of 2023, we advocated for Hunger Free Campus Act legislation and successfully got $1 million in funding for the initiative into the FY24 state budget! Leading up to the victory, we built support from over 1,000 students who took action by signing our petition, making a phone call to their legislator, or writing a letter. And we held a statewide lobby day with our friends at the Hunger Free Campus Coalition and turned out over 60 students and community activists. In just one day, we met with over 30 legislative offices and got five legislators to co-sponsor the bill. And we celebrated a victory in summer 2023 when Governor Healey signed the annual budget which included $1 million for the initiative!
Fighting Climate Change – Progress Towards 100% Renewable Energy
We work to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels and reverse the worst impacts of climate change. In 2008, we helped to pass the Global Warming Solutions Act in MA which helped us set goals to reduce our carbon emissions which we’re on track to hit. We launched our 100% renewable energy campaign back in 2016 and within 5 months, our chapter at Salem State successfully passed a resolution through the city council, making Salem the first city in MA to commit to 100% renewable energy. Since then 14 other cities and towns have made similar commitments and we’re advocating at the statewide level to make sure MA commits to a goal of 100% renewable energy. And in April 2022, we won our campaign to get UMass Amherst committed to 100% renewable energy by 2032.
Protecting Students from Predatory Lending Practices
In January 2021, Our advocacy and organizing efforts resulted in the passage of the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights, which will protect the 855,500 students who have had to take out loans to pay for college from unfair and deceptive lending practices by loan servicing companies. Our professional staff advocates and student leaders testified on Beacon Hill each time this bill came up for discussion. In the final weeks of the legislative session, we delivered letters signed by over 100 student leaders from across campuses in MA to the key decision-makers, including Governor Baker, to get this bill over the finish line.
Mobilizing the Youth Vote
We work to mobilize the youth vote during elections. In the last 15 years, MASSPIRG volunteers have helped to register over 45,000 students to vote. In the most recent midterm elections of 2018 our efforts resulted in a 55% – 85% increase in turnout since the 2014 midterm elections at the student-heavy polling locations. Even in 2020, when we were required to adapt all of our organizing efforts to be virtual rather than in person due to the pandemic, we were still able to make 50,000 youth voter contacts and recruited, trained, and mobilized over 400 student volunteers to participate in this campaign. This contributed to the historic youth voter turnout across the country.
Protecting Public Health: McDonald’s, Subway, and KFC Commit to Meat Raised Without Antibiotics
We work to protect public health by stopping the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. In the US, 90% of all our life-saving antibiotics are sold to factory farms and given to animals that aren’t even sick. We mobilized people to call on fast food restaurants to stop buying meat raised on the routine use of antibiotics and successfully got McDonald’s, Subway, and KFC to make this commitment with their chicken. After 2 years of working on this campaign, we were able to shift the marketplace so that over 50% of all chicken sold will be free of routine-antibiotic use. A huge victory for public health.
Dunkin’ Donuts Retires the Foam Cup
We’re working to protect the environment by reducing wasteful single-use products in our communities. Recently, student leaders at UML launched a project asking Dunkin’ Donuts to retire their foam cups by demonstrating customer support on social media and through phone calls into the headquarters. We ran this campaign on multiple campuses and took statewide action asking the company to live up to their sustainability commitment. In Feb 2018, Dunkin’ announced they’ll phase out their cup by 2020 – effectively eliminating 1 billion cups from our communities.
Read more about our history here.