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College Receives SUNY Food Pantry Refrigeration Grant

March 30, 2021

Press release courtesy of SUNY

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced that eight more SUNY campuses were awarded in a second round of grants to purchase food pantry refrigeration. Food refrigeration was the first issue raised by SUNY’s SUNY Student Voices Action Committee, which was formed by Chancellor Malatras to generate important discussions and solutions to key issues facing students. SUNY is closer to having food pantry refrigeration on all 64 campuses providing additional options to students fighting hunger.

Chancellor Malatras announced the awardees from SUNY Orange, one of the campuses receiving a grant today. Other campuses awarded grants include: CantonCortland,Erie Community CollegeMaritimeMonroeNiagara, and Sullivan.

“Food insecurity is all too prevalent across our nation and made worse by the pandemic, and our students are not immune. It is proof of the inequalities that exist on our campuses—and as we are optimistic about their return to in-person classes next fall, we have to make sure campus food pantries continue to have sustainable and reliable resources for more students,” said Chancellor Malatras. “We cannot allow hunger to get in the way of student success. SUNY’s investment in refrigeration for our campus food pantries allow students to access more nutritious items. My thanks to the Student Voices Action Committee and members of the Student Assembly for raising this issue, and for their ongoing advocacy for their fellow students. Hopefully one day students won’t need to rely on food pantries, but until that time we will make them as robust as possible in a non-stigmatizing way.”

Dr. Kristine Young, SUNY Orange President, said, “Prior to the pandemic, we recognized growing levels of food and housing insecurity, as well as financial distress, among SUNY Orange students. Those issues have only grown during the pandemic. Like most community college students, ours are committed to their education while simultaneously balancing schoolwork, jobs, family responsibilities, and more. Food insecurity and other hardships make it difficult for them to succeed academically. I appreciate Chancellor Malatras’ leadership in recognizing this issue statewide, and his commitment to support students through Food Pantry grants and other programs. As we recover from this pandemic, the SUNY Orange Food Pantry will be well-positioned to assure our students, and employees, that they have a place where they can acquire a blend of fresh healthy foods along with longer-lasting non-perishable foods.”

Madeline Torres-Diaz, Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Completion, said, “This grant from SUNY provides SUNY Orange with a great opportunity to expand our Food Pantry. Some of our students have been asking for items beyond our supply of non-perishable foods, and a refrigerator will allow us to stock fruits, vegetables, and meats. This will allow us to bring a wider variety of food items, and to stock much healthier foods. Our Food Pantry has been a welcome and much-needed resource for SUNY Orange students. We know that food insecurity is a real challenge that students face, and we are thankful for SUNY's help.”

Chancellor Malatras speaks with students

Nicholas Kanan, President, SUNY Orange Student Senate, said, “The Food Pantry is an essential part of the overall support programming provided to students at SUNY Orange. The pantry is a valuable resource for our classmates who are hungry or facing hard decisions regarding how or where they might get the next meal for themselves or their family. The pantry is open to all students and employees, regardless of income, and it is stocked through donations from community organizations and businesses, as well as students and employees. Also, students can participate anonymously, so they don’t have to worry about others knowing about their personal or family struggles.”

SUNY Orange’s food pantries at the Middletown and Newburgh locations are completely anonymous and confidential. When a student expresses the need for help, the Food Pantry Manager anonymously lets the student use the food pantry and refers them to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While many students have been remotely learning due to the pandemic, SUNY Orange continues to support students by offering gift cards to those who express a need for groceries. In normal times, the Food Pantry is open to all registered SUNY Orange students and staff members, regardless of income, who may be experiencing food insecurity.

SUNY Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Student Advocate Dr. John Graham said, “Our efforts to ensure that our campuses can offer a wide variety of foods to students is witnessed by this second announcement of refrigeration grants. We know that our campuses have done a great job providing non-perishable food supplies for students in need, and now, more of our schools will be able to offer perishable items, and along with them, a wider range of nutrients. I thank Chancellor Malatras for making this issue a priority and helping our campuses gain access to refrigeration storage, as well as the local food banks who have partnered with us.”

All SUNY students have access to a food pantry on or near campus. Those pantries experienced nearly 320,000 visits in 2019. Since the onset of the pandemic, campuses have experienced a notable increase in food pantry usage. The food refrigeration issue was first raised by Binghamton University student and SUNY Student Voices Action Committee member Jacob Eckhaus.

In addition to expanding food pantry refrigeration 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 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 approximately a quarter 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, 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 in 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 were more than $1.0 billion in fiscal year 2020, 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 www.suny.edu.