IUP Selected for Pennsylvania Hunger-Free Initiative

Posted on 8/18/22 12:40 PM

IUP is one of seven colleges and universities in the state selected for the Pennsylvania Hunger-Free Campus Initiative. IUP will hold the designation for two years.

The pilot program was announced August 4 by First Lady Frances Wolf and Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty.

IUP has offered support to students through a food pantry (now the Food Pantry and Help Center) since 2019. The Food Pantry and Help Center is staffed by student workers and an intern and is located in Wallwork Hall. 

Malaika Turner, assistant vice president for Student Affairs at IUP, spearheads and coordinates the program. “It is a team effort in the Student Affairs office,” she said. “We work closely with a number of divisions and offices throughout the university, including the Division of University Advancement.”

A number of student organizations have staged donation drives over the years to benefit the Food Pantry and Help Center. IUP’s operation has served 1,000 or more students over the past three years—both undergraduate and graduate students who reside both on- and off-campus.

According to the Governor’s office, the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative and the Hunger-Free Campus+ Initiative will help build a coalition of Pennsylvania institutions of higher education focused on addressing hunger and other basic needs for their students.

Institutions that receive the Hunger-Free Campus designation will receive a certificate of recognition from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, receive public recognition through placement on the PA Hunger-Free Campus website, be able to use the PA Hunger-Free Campus logo on materials to indicate the institution’s awareness of and focus on solving student hunger, and be eligible for future grant opportunities.

“We look forward to next steps in the process and how this initiative will enhance what we do at IUP as far as addressing food insecurity,” Turner said.

To achieve the PA Hunger-Free Campus designation, institutions must certify and be able to demonstrate that they meet the following criteria:

  • The institution has a method to directly connect students to food options through one or more of the following: an on-campus food pantry, a local community-based food pantry, or a food delivery program.

  • The institution has strategies in place to increase awareness of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility rules for students, focuses SNAP outreach on potentially eligible students, and helps students apply for SNAP and other benefits.

  • The institution has a task force that meets on a regular basis to address basic needs initiatives, including hunger, and raises awareness among students using an equity, inclusion, and belonging lens. The task force includes students, faculty, financial aid staff, student support staff, and at least one member of institutional leadership.

  • The institution collects and reports data to the college/university community and/or state on student food insecurity.

According to national studies, more than one-third of students know someone who dropped out of college due to food insecurity during the pandemic, and roughly 52 percent of students who faced food or housing insecurity in 2020 did not apply for support because they did not know how.