Kutztown University Awarded Grant Funding from Governor and First Lady for PA Hunger-Free Campus
KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Governor Josh Shapiro and First Lady Lori Shapiro announced that $1 million in PA Hunger-Free Campus grants have been awarded to 30 institutions of higher education and private licensed schools, including Kutztown University, to combat student hunger across the commonwealth.
Kutztown University was awarded a $60,000 grant with the purpose of addressing food insecurity on campus, including expanding access to food options, creating awareness initiatives and upgrading facilities.
Over one-third of students know someone who dropped out of college due to food insecurity during the pandemic. Roughly 52% of students who faced food or housing insecurity in 2020 did not apply for support because they did not know how. Colleges and universities across the country are taking steps to address these issues so students can focus on their education instead of where to find their next meal.
The Office of the First Lady, Mrs. Lori Shapiro, fully endorses the PA Hunger-Free Campus Initiative, which began in 2022. In 2023-24, the work continues to build a coalition of colleges and universities 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.
Governor Shapiro successfully advocated for $1,000,000 in the FY 2023-2024 budget to support postsecondary institutions' efforts on addressing student hunger needs on campus. Commencing August 2022, postsecondary institutions were invited to apply for the PA Hunger-Free Campus or PA Hunger-Free Campus+ designation to demonstrate their commitment to addressing these needs and diminishing barriers for learners.
At KU, the Bear Essentials Pantry, the on-campus food pantry, located in the McFarland Student Union and ran by the Office of Student Involvement, provides non-perishable food items to students in need. The university also has a partnership with Friend, Inc., a local non-profit agency serving Northeastern Berks County, which provides a satellite food pantry adjacent to campus and critical support services to students in need.
The university is extremely proactive in brokering students with information regarding food insecurity and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Through the partnership with Friend, Inc., the university provides students with assistance in completing the SNAP application. Additionally, KU maintains two student programs for the provision of help related to their basic needs. The Student Assistance Program offers students information, guidance and referrals in the areas that may impact students’ academic and personal success. The second program, the KU Care team, includes university administrators and staff and connects students who face financial emergencies, such as the inability to pay for housing or basic necessities to funding and other resources.
KU’s meal programs provide students with significant choice regarding their level of selection and associated costs. Non-resident students or students living in specific housing units can also select a block plan option that gives greater flexibility and provides meals across the semester at their choice, rather than a particular number of meals per week. These plans provide students with the possibility of retaining SNAP benefits. Students participating in specific student support programs, such as the university’s Providing Resources and Opportunities for Future Standouts (PROFS) program for students who are current or former members of the foster care system, may receive additional support to ensure their ability to be food secure.
KU has participated in the Real College Survey and the NSSE Survey to have avenues by which the university can learn about their students’ needs in fundamental areas of well-being.