Every State University of New York and City University of New York campus will have a food pantry or similar program by the end of the fall semester, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
The food pantries are part of Cuomo's "No Student Goes Hungry" initiative that he announced in his 2018 State of the State address. One of the objectives of his program is to reduce food insecurity on college campuses.
Earlier this year, SUNY reported approximately 70 percent of its campuses had food pantries or an alternative offering stigma-free access to food. Between SUNY and CUNY institutions, nearly 90 percent of New York's public colleges and universities offer a food pantry or a related program.
In his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to address a growing problem on …
Cayuga Community College, the lone SUNY institution in Cayuga County, has a food pantry at its Auburn campus.
"Hunger should never be a barrier for those seeking to achieve their dreams of a higher education," Cuomo said in a statement. "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."
There have been multiple studies conducted examining food security on college campuses. "Hunger on Campus," a report released in 2016, found 48 percent of college students experienced food insecurity within 30 days of being surveyed.
Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as lacking consistent access to food needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In March, SUNY launched an anti-hunger task force led by Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Anita Paley, executive director of the Food Bank Association of New York State. A major focus of the task force is to develop a multi-year campaign to raise awareness about food assistance available within the SUNY system.
The task force's work has already led to the implementation of some new ideas. Some campuses have mobile food trucks that provide food to students. Local farm crop sharing and subsidized on-campus grocery stores are other concepts. Another is to allow students to pay for a campus parking ticket by donating food to the campus pantry.
"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," SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson said.