As part of his proposed executive budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking for $1 million to make sure on-campus food pantries exist at all SUNY/CUNY schools.
While a lot of attention is focused on the importance of nutrition for younger students, college-age students are a forgotten group. The situation is further complicated for older students who have gone back to school to better themselves - but have a family on the side that must be cared for.
The Food Bank of WNY applauds the governor's request. Currently, the Food Bank of WNY provides food to 1,500 college students every month through food pantries that service local colleges and universities.
Buffalo State College also agrees with the governor's proposal. For twenty years, the college has operated Milligan's Food Pantry on campus. According to Kristen Helling, Assistant Director of Student Life, the college's food pantry serves around 300 students every year.
In an effort to cut down on the "embarrassment factor," the college allows needy students to order the food they require online. It is then put into a large bag marked with "I am Buffalo State" so students can pick it up without fear that other students will know of their situation.
It is now up the NYS Legislature to decide if Governor Cuomo's SUNY/CUNY Food Pantry plan will get funding.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his reports, including talking to a graduate student who said she was about to quite college because her hunger was so bad after having a job fall through with no meal plan to fall back on.
As of last fall, data showed that on-campus food pantries existed at Buffalo State College, Jamestown Community College (JCC) and SUNY Fredonia. UB has access to a food pantry but it is located off-campus.
Advocates for the governor's plan say off-campus pantries make it difficult for students who have transportation issues. They believe that on-campus pantries provide easier access with better recognition of services for students in need.