- PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE / WXXI NEWS
By some estimates, up to half of college students in the U.S. are food insecure. In New York state, all 64 State University of New York campuses offer free, donated food to students in need.
This week, SUNY awarded grants to 17 colleges to purchase refrigerators for their food pantries; Finger Lakes Community College was among the recipients.
Sara Iszard, director of FLCC's community standards and counseling office, said this will allow the school to make a wider variety of food available.
"Along with what can be considered much healthier food," she added. "A lot of fresh produce, fruits, meats, those types of things, and dairy, which students don't have access to through our food cupboard currently."
Iszard expects the refrigerated items to be available by this summer after her office moves to a more central and visible location on campus.
FLCC's food pantry has remained open throughout the pandemic and food is also made available on weekends to students who live in the school's residence halls. Iszard's staff packs reusable grocery bags with a three-day supply of food.
Fewer students have been on campus throughout the pandemic, but they are able to go online and request a bag of food to be picked up on campus or delivered to their home if they live nearby.
According to Iszard, there has been a steady increase in demand from students over the last several years. She believes it is connected to the increasing costs associated with higher education.
"Oftentimes, food may be the last thing they're thinking about when they're putting together a budget," Iszard said. "That's why they may end up in a situation where they've gone through their budget and they've paid everything, but they don't really have anything left over to sustain themselves."
Beth Adams is a reporter at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY.