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CCC Food Pantry

Cayuga Community College Faculty Student Association Executive Director Toni Giannettino runs the student food pantry on the Auburn campus.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen

The State University of New York has established a task force to focus on food security issues at its 64 campuses, including Cayuga Community College. 

One of the main goals of the Food Insecurity Task Force is to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to combat student hunger on New York's public college campuses. Cuomo unveiled the five-point plan as part of his annual State of the State agenda. 

A key plank of Cuomo's anti-hunger plan is requiring each SUNY and City University of New York campus to have a food pantry or an alternative method for providing meals to students who lack access to food. 

Most SUNY campuses already have a food pantry in place. In January, the university system said 70 percent of its campuses have a food pantry for students or partnerships with community organizations that provide meals. 

Cayuga Community College, the lone SUNY school in Cayuga County, has a food pantry for students at its Auburn campus. 

SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson said the goal is for all campuses to have food pantries or arrangements with community groups that provide resources for food. 

"Food insecurity continues to pose a formidable challenge across the United States and for many of our students, to the point of impacting their ability to achieve academic success," Johnson said. "I applaud Governor Cuomo for leading key stakeholders across New York state to commit resources and form partnerships to solve this issue through his 'No Student Goes Hungry Program'." 

The SUNY Food Insecurity Task Force will be led by Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Anita Paley, executive director of the Food Bank Association of New York State. Other members of the task force will include representatives from SUNY campuses, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, City Harvest and the SUNY Student Assembly. 

The task force's work will focus on a few areas, including how to boost existing resources at SUNY campuses, utilizing private resources to combat hunger and the development of a multi-year campaign to raise awareness about resources available throughout the SUNY system. 

A study released in 2016 titled "Hunger on Campus" revealed that nearly half of college students — 48 percent — experienced food insecurity within the 30-day period before they were surveyed. 

Kress cited a new study conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab which found more than half of students surveyed at MCC said they skipped meals. Nearly 40 percent of students who responded to the survey said they were hungry, but they weren't eating because of the cost. 

"SUNY's leadership on addressing food insecurity will help assure these students — and so many others — can focus fully on succeeding in and completing college," Kress said.