SUNY Opens Applications for New Grant Program Designed to Enhance SUNY Campus Food Pantries Amid Nationwide Uptick in Student Food Insecurity

March 9, 2021

SUNY Making Grants Up to $1,000 Available For Eligible Campuses to Purchase Refrigerators To Store Fresh Fruits, Vegetables, and Meat Products for Student Pantries

Food Refrigeration Issue Raised by SUNY Student Voices Action Committee—A Diverse Group Made Up of Representatives of the Student Assembly and Diversity of SUNY Student Body— During Recent Meeting

To Apply for the Grant, Click Here


Albany, NY
– In an effort to reverse surging rates of food insecurity among college students nationwide, State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today announced that applications are now open for a new SUNY grant program that will fund refrigerators for food pantries on campuses across the state. Beginning today, student associations or campus food pantry coordinators without the financial means to acquire a refrigerator can apply for and receive grants of up to $1,000 from SUNY on behalf of their campus.

There is a food pantry on or partnered with every SUNY campus. Those pantries had nearly 320,000 visits in 2019. Since the onset of the pandemic, campuses have experienced a notable increase in food pantry usage. Approximately 50 percent of SUNY’s 64 campus food pantries are equipped with refrigerators. Those without them are considered "dry pantries" and therefore can store only limited types of food and for a shorter period of time. Refrigerators purchased through the grant program will allow all pantries to store and provide fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat products that will improve students’ overall nutritional well-being.

"The profound impact of COVID-19 on our students will linger for months and years to come if we fail to address critical issues like food insecurity—which has spiked noticeably over the last 12 months," said Chancellor Malatras. "More of our students cannot focus on coursework because they’re preoccupied wondering where to find their next meal. Hunger is a major threat to those students’ long term success in life, and so we must act intentionally to reverse this cycle of poverty and inequity that ravages the same people over and over again. I urge every campus without a refrigerator in their food pantry to apply for a grant so that we can adequately store and provide nutritious meals to each and every student in need. I want to once again thank the SUNY Student Voices Action Committee—a dedicated group of students fighting to improve the student experience at SUNY—for raising the food refrigeration issue and for representing the members of our student body in most need of your help."  

The food refrigeration issue was first raised by Binghamton University student Jacob Eckhaus, a member of the SUNY Student Voices Action Committee. The committee was formed by Chancellor Malatras this past fall to generate important discussions and solutions to key issues facing students. Chancellor Malatras was joined by Eckhaus and Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger at their campus pantry last month for the official launch of the grant program.

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said, "I would again like to commend Chancellor Malatras for his efforts, as our food pantry and those across the SUNY system provide an absolutely necessary resource for students’ well-being, supporting them so they can achieve their academic goals. I would encourage other schools to pursue this funding, as this will ensure a greater variety of much-needed food is available to students struggling with food insecurity."

Student Voices Action Committee Member and Binghamton Student Jacob Eckhaus said, "I am especially proud to call myself a SUNY student today, and I thank Chancellor Malatras for his willingness to prioritize tackling food insecurity for college students. By creating an application process for campuses to receive grant money to support food security efforts, more students will have access to the nourishment they need to succeed in their academics. With this in mind, I hope that every in-need campus in the SUNY system will apply for this great opportunity."

In addition to having food pantries on campuses, Chancellor Malatras has established additional programs to get resources and food to students as part of the SUNY for All program. Last month, he announced a partnership with Feeding New York to help approximately three million New Yorkers utilizing regional food banks with a gateway to SUNY's free Online Training Center.

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 Central New York
  • Food Bank of the Southern Tier
  • Island Harvest Food Bank
  • Long Island Cares, Inc.
  • Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY

Also last month, Chancellor Malatras announced a SUNY for All Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enrollment initiative to assist 10,000 students facing food insecurity within SUNY’s free Online Training Center, Education Opportunity Centers, and Advanced Technology Training and Information Networking labs. It is designed to help those who are eligible for benefits, but who—for a wide range of reasons—don’t sign up. An internal survey of SUNY students showed that only 23 percent of eligible students considered even enrolling in SNAP. The new enrollment initiative was implemented to boost the number of applicants.

In order to be eligible for SUNY's new SNAP enrollment initiative, students must be engaged at least half-time in a career and technical education program, remedial coursework, 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.

To learn more about the SUNY for All programs, visit suny.edu/sunyforall.

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 state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 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 2021, 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 opportunity, visit suny.edu.


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