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State grant will help address food insecurity among students

mbruun | Tue Jan 24, 2023

Fitchburg State University has been awarded a grant for nearly $55,000 through the state’s Hunger Free Campus Initiative program to support students experiencing food insecurity.

The funding will help raise awareness of the support services available to students on campus and in the community, in addition to providing direct assistance to students. 

Food and housing insecurity is an issue for students in Massachusetts and nationwide. According to the state’s Hunger Free Campus Coalition, 37% of public university students in Massachusetts are food insecure, and only 20% of them utilize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Fitchburg State’s institutional efforts to address the issue include the Falcon Community Outreach Center that students may access discreetly through the Office of Student Development. The center includes the Falcon Bazaar food and necessities pantry, as well as a professional clothing closet to assist students going to interviews for jobs or internships. 

Student interns will be hired through the grant-funded program to design public awareness campaigns around food insecurity and the services available to those who need them, including SNAP.

“The entire Fitchburg State community has stepped up to support members experiencing food insecurity, and this program will help us keep moving forward,” University President Richard S. Lapidus said. “We are grateful for the state’s backing of our initiatives and look forward to continuing the work of supporting all students.”

The grant was announced at the end of Gov. Charlie Baker’s term in December.

“Your commitment to transform higher education institutional cultures to center equity-minded support services for students is commendable, particularly as the Commonwealth engages in post-COVID efforts to both retain and prepare our future workforce,” Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in the grant letter. “Through this funding and your continued support, we hope to expand access to great educational opportunities for every citizen in the Commonwealth.”