Kutztown University has been designated as a PA Hunger-Free Campus+ by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in recognition of the university’s commitment and leadership in the area of college student food security.
To achieve this designation, institutions must certify and be able to demonstrate the following: a method to directly connect students to food options through an on-campus food pantry, a local community-based food pantry or a food delivery system, have strategies in place to increase awareness of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) student eligibility requirements and help students apply for this benefit, have a task force that meets on a regular basis to address basic needs initiatives including hunger and the institution must collect and report data to the college/university community and/or state on student food insecurity.
KU exceeds the above criteria by offering an array of services and programs geared towards fighting student food insecurity. 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 the Bear Essentials Pantry with both perishable and non-perishable items.
The university is extremely proactive in brokering students with information regarding food insecurity and 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 Cares team, includes university administrators, staff and students 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 considerable choice regarding food selection while allowing them to maintain eligibility. Students receiving SNAP can select a block plan option that provides meals across the semester at their choice, rather than a particular number of meals per week which allows for flexibility.
In addition, students participating in specific student support programs, such as the university’s program related to students who have been in the foster care system or homeless, receive additional support to ensure food security.
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.