Chancellor Malatras Expands SUNY for All Initiative By Connecting More New Yorkers Financially Impacted by COVID and Food Insecurity With SUNY’s Free Online Training Center

February 5, 2021

Launches Partnership with Feeding New York to Help 3 Million New Yorkers Utilizing Regional Food Banks with a Gateway to SUNY's Free Online Training Center to Prepare for Post-COVID Careers

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Launches Campaign Pledging to Raise at Least $5,000 in Donations to Provide Free Meals Prepared at the Rochester EOC for Students

With 200,000 People in Served by Foodlink, SUNY for All Initiative and Partnerships Expected to Help Thousands of Students in the Area Pursuing an Education

Auto Enrollment in SNAP Benefits for Students in the Rochester Region Attending SUNY's Free Online Training Center, EOC, or ATTAIN Labs

Pictures from today's visits can be found here.

Rochester, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced the expansion of SUNY for All initiative by connecting more New Yorkers financially impacted by COVID and food insecurity with SUNY's free Online Training Center. As part of the initiative, SUNY provides auto-enrollment of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits—expanded by Governor Andrew Cuomo last fall—for students in the Rochester area attending SUNY's free Online Training Center, or the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center or Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking labs.

Chancellor Malatras also launched a partnership with Feeding New York to help approximately three million New Yorkers utilizing regional food banks, including Foodlink in Rochester, with a gateway to SUNY's free Online Training Center. Also announced today, the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, led by President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Duffy, who also serves as SUNY Board Trustee, launched a campaign pledging to raise at least $5,000 in donations to help provide no-cost meals prepared at the Rochester EOC for their students.

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. Through Foodlink, 200,000 people in a 10-county area are served by Feeding New York State, up from 136,00 pre-COVID. The SUNY for All initiatives and partnerships are expected to help thousands of students in the area pursuing an education.

"COVID has amplified the financial hardship for many New Yorkers, leaving them not knowing where to turn and having to make tough choices over feeding their families or getting an education to get jobs in emerging fields—that's where SUNY and our partners can provide a greater connection to free resources and educational opportunities that can turn lives around," said Chancellor Malatras. "By partnering with Feeding New York, we will connect millions of underemployed or unemployed New Yorkers with SUNY's free Online Training Center that provides access to certifications in high demand jobs. I want to thank our partners in Rochester particularly the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Rochester EOC, and Foodlink. It is an ‘all hands-on-deck' approach to bring resources together for the benefit of the people and communities we serve, and thousands could benefit."

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, and SUNY Trustee Bob Duffy said, "Food insecurity among SUNY students has been, and continues to be, an issue. We have seen this persistent problem worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Greater Rochester Chamber fully supports Chancellor Malatras' efforts on this front and we pledge to work with the community to raise funds to further support the Rochester EOC."

S. Congressman Joe Morelle said, "COVID-19 has severely exacerbated the hunger crisis in our community and across the country, leaving individuals and families struggling to put food on the table. It's critical that we work together to connect vulnerable New Yorkers to the many food assistance resources that can provide support during their time of need. I'm grateful to SUNY and our dedicated local organizations like Foodlink for their partnership as we work to reduce food insecurity and ensure no one is left behind."

Rochester EOC Executive Director and Dean Roosevelt Mareus said, "The EOCs were created to not only educate and train individuals, but to support them along the way. One of the support systems that the EOCs has in place is the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP. No one should have to worry about providing proper nutrition for themselves or their family. By providing the assistance with SNAP, the EOCs allow each student to concentrate on their educational goal."

Feeding New York State Executive Director Dan Egan said, "Feeding New York State commends chancellor Malatras' leadership on this issue. SUNY-for-all will build a bridge from food relief to educational opportunity. We at Feeding New York State are honored to partner with the state university on this initiative."

Foodlink President & CEO Julia Tedesco said, "Foodlink has partnered with several SUNY schools across the Rochester area to support on-campus food pantries and provide students with the nourishment they need to succeed in the classroom. We're proud to support the new SUNY for All initiative, and are pleased to hear about their commitment to bolster enrollment in SNAP, which is the most effective mechanism we have to reduce food insecurity in our communities."

SUNY for All SNAP Auto-Enrollment

Across New York State, the SNAP auto-enrollment program will assist 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.

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. New York State's new rules allow students to substitute certain coursework for the 20-hour work requirement, greatly opening eligibility to students who are struggling financially.

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. Today, Chancellor Malatras met with Ms. Brown, who now serves the Rochester EOC as the SNAP and CASH Coordinator.

"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."

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 here.

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.

SUNY for All Partnership with Feeding New York State

SUNY is creating paths as part of its SUNY for All campaign for more New Yorkers to gain a higher education. Through the partnership with Feeding New York State, New York's regional Food Banks will help deliver enrollment opportunities and support to the nearly three million New Yorkers currently facing food insecurity. As part of the partnership, SUNY will conduct joint enrollment webinars with food banks on a quarterly basis. Participating regional Food Banks are:

  • City Harvest
  • Feeding Westchester
  • FeedMore Western NY
  • Foodlink
  • Food Bank of the Southern Tier
  • Food Bank of Central New York
  • Island Harvest Food Bank
  • Long Island Cares, Inc.
  • Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York 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 2023, 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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