PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is reminding institutions of higher education (IHE) to apply for a PA Hunger-Free Campus designation, to receive recognition for their work to combat student hunger and apply for grant funding to expand those efforts.
“Food insecurity has a critical effect on an individual’s health and well-being, and can seriously impact learning, development, and academic outcomes for learners,” said Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “Pennsylvania’s Hunger-Free campuses are on the front lines combatting student hunger, and our continued investment in their efforts will create widespread opportunities for campuses and communities.”
IHEs should apply for a PA Hunger-Free Campus designation on PDE’s website. Designees receive a certificate of recognition and placement on the PA Hunger-Free Campus website, and they also have an opportunity to apply for future grant opportunities.
An estimated 36% of students know someone who dropped out of college due to food insecurity during the pandemic, and roughly 52% of students who faced food or housing insecurity did not apply for support because they did not know how. Recognizing that many students need assistance meeting basic needs, institutions across Pennsylvania have increased resources for services such as food pantries and career closets.
The PA Hunger-Free Campus Initiative builds a coalition of Pennsylvania institutions focused on addressing hunger and other basic needs for their students, creating opportunities for connection among student hunger advocates, providing resources and strategies for campuses, and supporting opportunities to apply for grants related to addressing food insecurity.
Postsecondary institutions that received a PA Hunger-Free Campus+ designation implemented additional innovative solutions to address student hunger and other basic needs for their campus community in conjunction with demonstrating additional criteria. Examples of these initiatives included offering a variety of meal plans, including an option that provides ten or fewer meals weekly to avoid interfering with SNAP eligibility, creating or implementing meal-sharing programs, educating student leaders on campus to develop student-centered programs, or facilitating innovative community partnerships.
Since the program’s implementation, 61 IHEs have been designated as a PA Hunger-Free Campus or PA Hunger-Free Campus+. During the 2022-23 school year, PDE awarded $1 million in grants to 28 postsecondary institutions to help them address food insecurity on campus, including expanding access to food options, creating awareness initiatives, and upgrading facilities.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, visit its website.
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