Baruch College Expands Campus-wide Effort to Combat Food Insecurity Among Students
December 2, 2019
Food insecurity – the state of having limited or uncertain access to food – is a growing issue throughout the U.S., across The City University of New York (CUNY) campuses, and here at Baruch College. A #RealCollege survey, conducted by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab administered in the fall of 2018 at all CUNY undergraduate campuses, found that during the 30 days preceding the survey, 48 percent of the students who responded to the survey experienced food insecurity. An increasing number of students face the dilemma of either buying a MetroCard to get to classes and jobs, or purchasing a meal.
At Baruch, there is coordinated effort to help ensure students don’t have to face this difficult choice with the Office of Student Life taking the lead.
Nearly 50 students have taken advantage of the hot meals, served roughly every other Wednesday since October in the Bear Cat Den, and an estimated 109 Grab & Go bags have been distributed since the inception of the program last spring, and 62 this semester alone, according to Brandy Peer, associate director for Community Standards, at the Office of the Dean of Students. Large bins with the bags are available in three locations: Office of the Dean of Students, Office of Student Life, and the college’s Health and Wellness unit.
“We aim to provide direct support to students in any way we can – no student should have to choose between paying for school and eating,” said Art King, vice president for Student Affairs & Dean of Students. “Our hope is that more students will take advantage of the Grab & Go bags and our Hot Lunch On The Go meals.”
More Assistance to Come
According to Dean King, Baruch College has a number of initiatives in the works to expand its commitment to addressing food insecurity. There are plans to set up pop-up food pantries, which would offer fresh fruits and vegetables and other perishables, kosher, and vegan food options. Distributions of warm weather clothing, coordinated food “rescues” from Baruch’s catered events, summer food distributions, and space for a physical pantry are also under consideration.
Support from the Petrie Foundation
In June, the Office of College Advancement (OCA) secured a $20,000 renewable food grant from the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation. The grant covers the 2019-2020 academic year and has enabled the College to offer the Grab & Go bags and twice monthly hot lunches with a to-go option, dubbed Hot Lunch On The Go, for students in need. Mary Tufts, Chief Foundation Relations Officer at OCA, is continuing to endeavor to find new sources of funding and is working with alumni interested in supporting these programs.
Emergency Fund Support
Through generous donations from outside agencies, foundations, and organizations, Baruch College is also pleased to provide emergency grants to its students who are beset by financial difficulties. These grants are managed by the Office of the Dean of Students. Information on each grant along with its respective guidelines and eligibility requirements can be found here.
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