Colleges are continuing to make efforts to address hunger amongst college students with the passage of the Hunger Free Campus Act which the Minnesota legislature passed in 2019. 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 designation, a campus must meet the following minimum criteria:
- Have a food pantry, partnership with a food bank, or some type of food distribution system on campus available to students.
- Have a designated staff person on campus to educate students on SNAP and other public services aimed to reduce food insecurity.
- Provide emergency funds to assist students who may be experiencing basic needs insecurity.
- Have a taskforce dedicated to addressing food insecurity concerns.
- Host or participate in at least one hunger awareness event each year.
LeadMN named 12 Minnesota State community and technical colleges as Hunger Free Campuses. These colleges are:
- 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 - Winona
- Normandale Community College
- Pine Technical & Community College
- Rainy River Community College
- Rochester Community and Technical College
These schools join the first colleges that earned the designation in January 2020. These colleges are Anoka Technical College, Central Lakes College, Inver Hills Community College, and South Central College. Combined the 16 colleges have served over 6,596 students through the campus pantries, recorded over 24,138 visits to their pantries, and distributed over 61,600 pounds of food to students. Additionally, the colleges have distributed emergency assistance funding to 260 students, conducted SNAP outreach to over 381 students, and identified 15 community partnerships formed to meet student basic needs. These numbers are per academic year and all information is strictly from self-reported campus data. “No student can succeed in the classroom if they can’t get food or shelter outside the classroom,” said Oballa Oballa, President of LeadMN. “If Minnesota wants to meet the state workforce demands we need to help meet the basic needs of college students so they can focus on the classroom.” The largest survey of college and university students in Minnesota found that 37% of respondents were food insecure in the previous 90 days and 48% were housing insecure in the previous year. Read the full report.