Hunger Free Campus is an initiative to address food insecurity on community and technical colleges. The 2021 Hope Center Basic Needs National Survey report shows that 38% of two - year college students in the United States are food insecure. This statistic is consistent with recent Minnesota data that shows 37% of college students have experienced food insecurity, meaning they do not have a steady source of food or cannot afford to feed themselves or their families. 

"Food insecurity is a lack of access to, or a consistent limited availability of adequate food"
or as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines Food Security: "Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life."

Food insecurity is a complex and challenging issue. A lack of safe and adequate nutrition in households signifies a basic need encompassing a variety of socio-economic factors. Hunger does not always equate to food insecurity and neither does poverty. It simply means that access is not always consistent or available or the options are inadequate to meet the nutritional needs of the person/household.

At LeadMN, we believe that no student should have to go hungry while pursuing their education. That is why we worked at the State Legislature to introduce and pass the Hunger Free Campus Act in 2019, and advocated for its funding and expansion to all of Minnesota's public and private non-profit colleges & universities in 2021. So far 21 colleges have earned the designation of Hunger Free Campus.


A Hunger Free Campus: 

A Hunger Free Campus is a Minnesota State community and/or technical college that is actively taking strides to reduce food insecurity amongst students. In order to be awarded the Hunger Free Campus designation, a campus must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • Has a food pantry, partnership with a food bank, or some type of food distribution system on campus available to students.
  • Has a designated staff person on campus to educate students on SNAP and other public services aimed to reduce food insecurity. The institution shall notify students in work-study employment of their potential eligibility for SNAP benefits and provide information to those students that includes eligibility criteria and how to apply for benefits.
  • Provides emergency funds to assist students who may be experiencing basic needs insecurity.
  • Has a taskforce dedicated to addressing food insecurity concerns.
  • Hosts or participates in at least one hunger awareness event each year.

Colleges must also reapply for the designation every four years. 

To learn more about the designation and apply, click here.


Current Hunger Free Designations:

January 2020
Anoka Technical College
Central Lakes College
Inver Hills Community College 
South Central College

May 2020
Dakota County Technical College
Hennepin Technical College 
Itasca Community College 
Lake Superior College 
Mesabi Range College
Minnesota State Community and Technical College 
Minneapolis Community and Technical College 
Minnesota State College Southeast
Normandale Community College 
Pine Technical & Community College 
Rainy River Community College 
Rochester Community and Technical College 

January 2021
Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Century College
North Hennepin Community College

January 2023
Riverland Community College
Saint Paul College


Hunger Free Campus Impact

The Hunger Free Campus Act has had a tremendous positive impact on raising awareness and helping provide a roadmap to colleges to provide resources and support to address food insecurity.

View our 2021 and 2020 impact handouts here!


Hunger Free Campus Funding

Competitive grants are now available to support Hunger Free Campuses through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. These grants will include funding for colleges who wish to maintain their Hunger Free Campus designation, and those working to achieve it.

Maximum Initial Grant (undesignated colleges): $8,000
Maximum Sustaining Grant (previously designated colleges): $5,000

As the grants become available, LeadMN will work to notify your college.

How Can You Support Hunger Free Campuses?
2 in 5 college students in Minnesota are facing food insecurity. It is critical that systems and resources are in place at colleges to help ensure no student has to go hungry. In order to make sure our schools reflect the needs of students, we must take action. 

Send a letter to your president to help move your school towards becoming a Hunger Free Campus.


Contact LeadMN at