CUNY Urban Food Policy Director Nicholas Freudenberg testified before a hearing of the City Council Committees on Higher Education and General Welfare on February 14, 2019. This is an excerpt from his testimony:

Healthy CUNY, the university-wide initiative to promote student health for academic success, has proposed that CUNY, New York City and New York State commit to ending food insecurity among CUNY students in the next five years, by 2023, a goal that we believe is ambitious but achievable. To realize that goal, we propose:

  • CUNY should develop a comprehensive plan to increase the number of Single Stop programs and food pantries, expand education and outreach programs, and enlist the food service vendors at CUNY in increasing access to healthy affordable food for all CUNY students. Every campus should prepare students to serve as food security advocates.
  • New York City and State should provide the funding needed to ensure that these programs can serve all students in need. New York State should provide the resources needed to achieve the laudable goal the Governor articulated in his 2018 State of the State speech that no college student in New York State should be hungry.
  • New York State should follow the lead of other states such as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois and New Jersey to modify federal rules to extend the opportunity to enroll in SNAP to college students who work less than 20 hours a week or go to school part-time and to count college enrollment itself and work-study hours as meeting the requirement for job training.

Research shows that CUNY moves more people into the middle class than all the Ivy League schools combined. While CUNY has made progress in reducing food insecurity, in my view, it is shameful that in the wealthiest city in the world so many of our students are still hungry. As someone who has taught at CUNY for almost 40 years, I know how hard our students work to succeed at school and life. I also know for many of our food insecure students, it is the fact that they are in school that puts them at risk of food insecurity and hunger— requiring them to spend money on books, tuition or subway fare rather than food. This is a burden no decent society should impose on its young people. These students are hungry because they are seeking an education. New York City and State could make no better investment in our city’s health and economic future than to end food insecurity on our college campuses. We look forward to working with the City Council, the State and CUNY to achieve this goal by 2023.

Pictured above L to R: Hostos Community College Food Studies Club members Alexandra Pisano, Jessica Lopez, Karla Ignacio, Institute Director Nicolas Freudenberg, Maggie Dickinson, assistant professor at Guttman College after the hearing.

Nicholas Freudenberg is Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and Healthy CUNY, both based at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.