BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (WTEN) – SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced on Sunday a grant program to expand SUNY campus pantry resources to combat food insecurity—an issue that he says became even more dire for students during the pandemic.
SUNY will provide grants to campuses without the financial means or ability to procure refrigerators in their food pantries, making it possible for every campus to store more fresh food and protein. Student Associations or campus food pantry coordinators will be able to apply for a grant of up to $1,000 on behalf of their campus.
“As we deal with the challenges of COVID, we must do everything in our power to help our students succeed. Food insecurity is a major problem with more than a third of our students going hungry at some point before the pandemic and we’re seeing an even greater spike in student hunger because of COVID,” said Chancellor Malatras. “The pangs of hunger should not cloud a student’s education. We must act, and today’s grant program will go a long way in providing much-needed meals to students in need.”
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.
As part of Governor Cuomo’s “No Student Goes Hungry” program, there is a food pantry on or partnered with every SUNY campus. Those pantries experienced nearly 320,000 visits in 2019. Since the beginning of the pandemic, campuses have experienced a notable increase in food pantry usage.
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. On February 5, 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
- 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