News / Student Life

Hunter’s Food Programs Offer Sense of Stability

Catherine Stevens, a 40-year-old Hunter student, has been unemployed since the pandemic started. While the struggle of finding a job has been difficult, her worry about food is lessened thanks to the college.

“Hunter’s food pantry has been a big help to me, since not working and not having any money,” she said. “I don’t have to stress as much about what to eat or if what I eat is healthy.” 

With just a Hunter College ID card in hand, the Purple Apron Food Pantry gives students food every weekday. It is open Monday to Thursday at the 68th st. campus and on Fridays at the Brookdale campus. Hunter’s Fresh Food box offers a bag of organic ingredients on Thursdays 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the East building’s basement. 

“The goal of the food pantries program is to support the health and well-being of our students by helping them alleviate food insecurity issues,” said a Hunter spokesperson.

Hunter’s food policy center is a resource for students who cannot afford healthy and nutritional meals. According to a report by Urban Food Policy Institute, 60,000 CUNY undergraduates experience food insecurity. Studies show food-insecure students are more likely to have their GPA drop, leading to heightened stress levels and depression.

About 80 bags a week are handed out to students and staff, said GrowNYC’s Emilia Jenson. 

“Having access to fresh, good organic produce helps students have a healthy good balanced diet,” she said. Seventy bags go to Hunter students who signed up for the program. The rest are available for purchase for $14; for those on federal assistance the price is $7. 

For students who cannot afford to cover the cost of the Hunter Fresh Food Box, there is also a Voucher Program that covers the cost of the fresh food box. Students can sign up for the waitlist to be given a fresh food bag at no cost to them. 

“Food insecurity is a significant challenge faced by college students,” said Martin Pino, director of Counseling and Wellness Services at Hunter. Findings from the State of Food Security at CUNY indicate that “8% of students had gone hungry due to lack of access often (5%) or sometimes (13%) in the last 2 weeks.”

According to the Hope Survey, which surveyed 195,000 students in over 200 colleges nationwide, 29% of students were affected by food insecurity in 2020. Not only does food insecurity have huge effects on students’ academic performances and personal health, they are also more likely to choose cheaper and highly processed food, leading to long-lasting health problems, the survey found.

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