Pennsylvania Grants 30 Colleges $1M to Fight Food Insecurity

The PA Hunger-Free Campus Initiative awards grants to private and public colleges and trade schools across the state to combat food insecurity on campus.
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Published on February 1, 2024
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  • The initiative began in 2022 to create a coalition of colleges and universities focused on addressing hunger and students' basic needs.
  • Several colleges and universities are expanding food pantries, helping students apply for government benefits, and caring for historically underserved populations.
  • BestColleges found that 23% of college students were food insecure in 2020.

The state of Pennsylvania is battling food insecurity across 30 colleges, universities, and trade schools in the state through $1 million in grants.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education last month announced the second year of PA Hunger-Free Campus grants to address food insecurity, expand access to food options, create awareness initiatives, and upgrade facilities.

"Students of all ages learn best when they start the day with a full stomach and are better prepared to succeed when they have access to nutritious, healthy food," Gov. Josh Shapiro said in the press release.

"These grants will help colleges and universities across Pennsylvania improve and introduce programs to fight hunger and ensure students from every background have the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed in Pennsylvania."

The Hunger-Free Campus Initiative began in 2022:

  • To create a coalition of colleges and universities focused on addressing hunger and students' basic needs
  • To create connections among student hunger advocates
  • To provide resources and strategies for campuses
  • To offer grant-funding opportunities to campuses

BestColleges found that 23% of college students were food insecure in 2020. Students who were food insecure had lower GPA averages and were less likely to earn bachelor's degrees than students who were not, according to the findings.

How Some Pennsylvania Colleges Will Use Funds to Combat Campus Hunger

The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) will use its $13,600 grant to connect more students to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through strategies and partnerships.

"CCAC is honored to be one of the recipients of the PA Hunger-Free Campus grant award. Food insecurity is one of the hidden barriers that affect college students nationwide," CCAC President Quintin Bullock said in a school press release.

"For an institution that serves a high percentage of economically challenged students, CCAC is committed to eliminating barriers to enable students to achieve their full potential."

Kutztown University's (KU) $60,000 grant will support existing food pantry and outreach initiatives. KU hosts the Bear Essentials Pantry and a satellite food pantry adjacent to campus through a partnership with Friend, Inc., which supplies nonperishable food to students. The university also partners with Friend, Inc. to assist students in applying for SNAP benefits.

Alongside fighting food insecurity, KU provides care for students facing housing insecurity and the Providing Resources and Opportunities for Future Standouts program for students who are current or former foster care system members.

Last year, Millersville University used its 2022-23 grant to expand the kitchen, Campus Cupboard, and restrooms at the HUB. The HUB provides four free weekly hot meals, daily snacks, and breakfast. The Campus Cupboard allows students to shop once a week for food and personal hygiene items at no cost.

Millersville will use this year's $40,000 grant to expand the HUB's outreach and create a "Sub-HUB Station" with refrigeration and shelving in another more prominent campus space.

"Many students, primarily our international students, LGBTQ+ students and students who were raised in the foster care system, do not have another place to go during the break when the campus dining facilities are not regularly open," Mary Beth Williams, Millersville vice president for student affairs, told the Millersville News.

"These weekly meals and food distribution points would allow students who stay on campus to be fed, take food with them, and connect with faculty, staff and students on the Hunger Free Campus Task Force who want to support and help them during the long break."

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College will establish its first food pantry with its $20,000 grant to provide grab-and-go meals and supplies for meals at home.

Pennsylvania State University will use its $60,000 grant to support student care and advocacy programs, the Lion's Pantry, and the Sustainable Food Systems Program across all campuses.

West Chester University (WCU) will use its $60,000 grant to continue supporting the WCU Resource Pantry, available to all undergraduate and graduate students. The pantry provides fresh food, toiletries, school supplies, an intake space for students, and an area where students can enroll in government benefits.

All Colleges Receiving PA Hunger-Free Campus Grants
Brockway Center for Arts and Technology $20,000.00
Bucks County Community College $60,000
Butler County Community College $20,000
Carnegie Mellon University $60,000
Cedar Crest College $20,000
Chatham University $19,998
Community College of Allegheny County $13,600
Delaware Valley University $12,000
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania $40,000
Eastern University $39,618
Gannon University $40,000
King's College $19,789
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania $60,000
La Roche University $20,000
Lackawanna College $20,000
Lehigh Carbon Community College $40,000
Marywood University $22,970
Millersville University of Pennsylvania $40,000
Misericordia University $20,000
Moravian University $19,985
Muhlenberg College $20,000
Neumann University $20,000
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College $20,000
Pennsylvania State University $60,000
Pennsylvania Western University $60,000
Pittsburgh Technical College $20,000
Point Park University $34,100
Reading Area Community College $40,000
West Chester University of Pennsylvania $60,000
Westminster College $20,000