Pennsylvania Designates $1 Million to Fight Food Insecurity at Colleges

The funding will provide grants for food pantries and other efforts to combat student hunger.

August 3, 2022 · Updated on August 3, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
Pennsylvania Designates $1 Million to Fight Food Insecurity at Colleges
Photo by aimintang / E+ / Getty Images

  • $1 million in funding will help colleges expand food banks and fight food insecurity.
  • Advocates say more than a third of Pennsylvania college students will face food insecurity on campus this fall.
  • Several other states, including California and Louisiana, have enacted similar programs.

Pennsylvania's recently passed state budget includes $1 million to help colleges set up food pantries and fight food insecurity on their campuses.

The budget, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in July, includes $1 million to set up the state's new Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program, according to the governor's office. The funding will go toward helping colleges both boost their food banks and educate students about assistance programs.

"The Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program will help schools set up and expand campus food pantries, increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach, improve data gathering, and take other efforts needed to meet the nutritional needs of their student population," Pennsylvania first lady Frances Wolf said in a statement. "College students are pursuing careers that will benefit all of Pennsylvania, so it is important that we take steps like this to support their well-being."

Similar efforts have been passed in multiple states, according to the nonprofit group Swipe Out Hunger. Pennsylvania is the latest state to enact the campus food insecurity measure, joining California, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey.

“Similar efforts have been passed in multiple states, according to the nonprofit group Swipe Out Hunger. Pennsylvania is the latest state to enact the campus food insecurity measure, joining California, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey.”

"The issue of hunger and basic needs insecurity among college students impacts nearly every campus across all geographical regions and demographics," Democratic state Sen. Carolyn Comitta, who last year introduced a Hunger-Free Campus bill in the state legislature, said in a release. "It impacts nontraditional college students, first-generation students, international students, those who relied on free or reduced-price meals throughout high schools, and others who have been impacted by rising consumer costs in addition to managing new financial responsibilities like housing, books, tuition, and more."

Robb Friedlander, director of advocacy with Swipe Out Hunger, said in that release that more than a third of Pennsylvania college students will face food insecurity when they return to campus.

Comitta's bill, along with the House version of the legislation introduced by Democratic Reps. Malcolm Kenyatta and Jennifer O'Mara, didn't advance out of committee last year. According to the release from Comitta, the grant program enacted as part of the state budget is based on that legislation.

BestColleges previously reported that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened food insecurity among college students, with as many as 59% of students experiencing food insecurity at some point in their college careers.

In the BestColleges 2022 College Student Mental Health report, 23% of currently enrolled undergraduate students surveyed said food insecurities negatively affected their mental health over the past year.