By Jonathan Sperling
Fulfilling its commitment to combating food insecurity on its campuses, the City University of New York announced on Thursday that it will soon unveil a free food pantry at its York College campus in Jamaica.
The new food pantry will officially open on Wednesday, Dec. 19, thanks in part to a grant funded by The Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation and CUNY’ Central Office. The pantry is currently accepting donated items from individuals and businesses.
Multiple CUNY colleges in Queens, including Queens College and LaGuardia Community College and York College, announced in August that they planned to established free food pantries in order to provide stigma-free food access for students in-need.
In 2015, CUNY reported that 38.5 percent of its students come from households that make less than $20,000 a year.
“Hunger should never be a barrier for those seeking to achieve their dreams of a higher education,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an August statement. “New York is proud to be the first state in the nation to require every public campus to have a food pantry, ensuring that our students have all they need on the path to success.”
York College continues to collect items to stock the pantry, but it has provided students food items with for the last two months with support from the Greater Queens Chapter of the Links, Inc. and the Red Shoes Club.
York College is located in the heart of Jamaica, which has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the borough. A study published last month by the Food Bank For New York City found that cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are driving a surge in the number of New Yorkers who visit food pantries, especially in Jamaica, Hollis and St. Albans.
"Food insecurity is a concern throughout CUNY and all of the campuses with the support of donors and community organizations have come together to develop programs that will assist students so that they can achieve their goals. Many students struggle financially to make end meets and this distracts from them focusing on their school work and completing their academic degrees," said Dr. Vincent Banrey, Vice President of Student Development at York College
York College, located at 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., will host the grand opening of the food pantry beginning at noon in Room 3M02 on Dec. 19.