ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 100 percent of all New York State public colleges at The State University of New York and The City University of New York will have a food pantry or stigma-free food access for students in need by the end of the fall semester. The accomplishment will make New York the first state in the nation to have such a comprehensive program to combat student hunger. Currently, as classes begin, nearly 90 percent of SUNY and CUNY campuses offer these services as part of the Governor’s “No Student Goes Hungry Program.”
Hunger should never be a barrier for those seeking to achieve their dreams of a higher education,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York is proud to be the first state in the nation to require every public campus to have a food pantry, ensuring that our students have all they need on the path to success.”
“Students attending college at SUNY and CUNY campuses across the state are working to secure a brighter future through higher education and should never be burdened with concern about where their next meal will come from,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “With this innovative program to address food insecurity we are once again leading the nation with effective solutions to improve the lives of our fellow citizens.”
In his 2018 State of the State address, the Governor announced a five-point plan to combat hunger for students in kindergarten through college. The plan seeks to provide healthy, locally-sourced meals to the almost one million children in New York who do not have access to the adequate nutrition they need. As part of that plan, the Governor tasked SUNY and CUNY with the establishment of physical food pantries on campus or stigma-free access to free food.
SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, “Food insecurity can affect anyone, including the students enrolled in our campuses. Under the Governor’s leadership and with incredible support from all 64 SUNY campuses and partnerships across the state, we are quickly changing not only the conversation about hunger on our campuses, but how we support our students in critical need. Together, we are providing needed nutrition, ending the stigma around food insecurity, and helping ensure no student is forced to drop out because of limited access to the healthy food they need.”
CUNY Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz said, “CUNY runs food pantries or provides food at 18 of our colleges. Yet research has found that almost 15 percent of our students may go hungry because they can’t afford food. According to studies by the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy, food insecurity is also linked to lower grades and absenteeism. The Governor’s initiative to combat food insecurity on all public university campuses will have a significant positive impact on our students.”
In 2018, directly following the Governor’s announcement, SUNY created a Food Insecurity Task Force, drawing members from a broad spectrum of constituencies, including students; staff; faculty; auxiliary food service providers; food bank associations; civic organizations; and community and philanthropic organizations, to study the issue of food insecurity on college campuses and recommend the necessary changes and best practices to alleviate this serious issue to date.
In addition to the expansion of and access to food pantries, the task force’s efforts have helped establish and grow innovative intervention programs on SUNY campuses, including mobile food trucks, local farm crop sharing, a subsidized on campus grocery store, and programming that allows students to “pay” a campus parking ticket in food donations to an on-campus pantry.
The Healthy CUNY program employs a multifaceted approach to address food insecurity on CUNY campuses. To date, food pantries or food vouchers are available at 18 CUNY 2 and 4 year campuses.
–NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
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