Chancellor Malatras Announces SUNY for All to Assist 10,000 Students Facing Food Insecurity and Extends Access to More NYers Hit Hardest by COVID-19 with Free Online Training

February 3, 2021

New Initiative Extends Access to Students Financially Impacted by COVID and Enrolled in the SUNY for All Free Online Training Program, EOCs, and ATTAIN Labs

SUNY for All Video About Auto-Enrollment Available Here

Troy, NY –
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today launched a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program auto-enrollment program for approximately 10,000 SUNY students facing food insecurity, who are eligible for benefits but may not be signing up following the expansion of the program by Governor Andrew Cuomo in October 2020. An internal survey of SUNY students showed that only 23 percent of eligible students considered even enrolling in SNAP, a significant resource to fight food insecurity, and auto-enrollment will close that gap.

Chancellor Malatras made the announcement from the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center. In order to be eligible for SUNY's new SNAP auto-enrollment, students must be engaged at least half-time in career and technical education program, remedial course, basic adult education, literacy, or English as a second language, which are available within SUNY's free Online Training Center, Educational Opportunity Centers, and Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking labs. Previously, these students did not qualify for SNAP assistance, unless they met certain criteria such as working at least 20 hours per week, or caring for a child, or were unable to work, among others. The new New York State rules allow students to substitute certain coursework for the 20-hour work requirement, greatly opening eligibility to students who are struggling financially.

"Within our Educational Opportunity Centers alone, 50 percent of our students have suffered from food insecurity at some point, which is why SUNY is tackling this issue on multiple fronts whether it is having food pantries on or near campuses to today's important program of automatically enrolling eligible students into the SNAP program," said Chancellor Malatras. "Today's expansion will allow our dedicated students to focus on their academic pursuits and career goals instead of where they will get their next meal. My thanks to all of our professionals at the Educational Opportunity Centers and ATTAIN labs for helping us reach more people, as well as President Roger Ramsammy and Capital District EOC Executive Director Lucille Marion for their ongoing efforts to help our students clear hurdles to a higher education and succeed. No one should have to choose between hunger and the hope of pursuing an education."

Hudson Valley Community College President Ramsammy said, "Students at Hudson Valley Community College and young people across New York are facing unprecedented challenges. Under the leadership of Chancellor Malatras, the State University is taking bold steps to address those challenges. Students can now receive ready and reliable access to SNAP benefits while they pursue an opportunity to increase their education and career skills through SUNY for All. The state's Educational Opportunity Centers are a valuable tool for moving New Yorkers toward a brighter future, and we are so pleased that Chancellor Malatras has chosen to make this announcement at our own Capital District Educational Opportunity Center."

Capital District EOC Executive Director Marion said, "EOCs are always pleased to be able to support initiatives and provide opportunities for our students that will help them to advance and move toward reaching their goals. Food insecurity is one of the major challenges they face every day in this journey."

Queens Educational Opportunity Center Khayriyyah H. Ali, Executive Director, said, "The SUNY-Educational Opportunity Centers' commitment to students and communities served throughout New York State clearly supports our ability to meet the needs of those currently experiencing food insecurity due to the impact of COVID-19. Access to SNAP benefits while enrolled in an EOC, as well as connecting participants in educational or career training options through SUNY's Online Training Center will reduce the strain that lack of food complicates on any given day for oneself and family. We welcome this expansion of EOC services."

When Governor Cuomo expanded SNAP, he made it possible for more students like Serina Brown to receive assistance for food costs. She started at SUNY's Rochester Educational Opportunity Center, then for further post-secondary education at SUNY Empire State College and SUNY Brockport.

"The money freed my thoughts about how to keep my children fed and allowed me to have money to be used to pay my bills," Brown said. "It enabled me to focus on making life better."

While SUNY's new SNAP auto-enrollment assists students, SUNY is also creating paths as part of its SUNY for All campaign for more New Yorkers to gain a higher education. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, regional food banks have experienced a 58 percent increase in food demands for struggling families—many of whom qualify for the free skill-building, college preparatory, English language skills, and employment certification programs available through SUNY's free Online Training Center.

Registration is open for the Spring semester. Students who complete any one of the Online Training Center certificates with a high school diploma or high school equivalency credential will be automatically accepted to any of SUNY's 30 community colleges, SUNY Empire State College, or SUNY Canton, excluding Canton's nursing and veterinarian tech programs. The application fee is also waived. To learn more, register or attend a virtual informational session, visit

SUNY's free Online Training Center includes programs offered through the Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs) and Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking (ATTAIN) labs. These online programs, coupled with success coaches, will help more New Yorkers earn a higher education degree. Additionally, small business owners can start or grow their enterprises with EntreSkills, the free online entrepreneurial education course developed by the New York Small Business Development Center.

SUNY's Educational Opportunity Centers have traditionally served as a launching pad to community colleges, and SUNY campuses have partnerships with many EOCs to give enrollment and orientation programs. The statewide network of ten EOCs and two Outreach and Counseling Centers include 600 faculty and staff. While SUNY's EOCs are located in large urban areas across New York, SUNY's Online Training Center is accessible across the state.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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