Gannon was designated as a Hunger-Free+ Campus by the PA Department of Education in recognition of its dedication to student food security efforts, including bringing awareness to the important issue of college student hunger and providing resources to help meet students’ nutritional needs.
This designation inducts Gannon into a coalition of Pennsylvania colleges and universities focused on addressing hunger and other basic needs for their students; creating opportunities for connection among student hunger advocates; providing resources and strategies for campuses; and supporting opportunities to apply for grants related to addressing food insecurity.
Over one-third of students know someone who dropped out of college due to food insecurity during the pandemic. Roughly 52% of students who faced food or housing insecurity in 2020 did not apply for support because they did not know how. Colleges and universities across the country are taking steps to address these issues so students can focus on their education instead of where to find their next meal.
This distinction is just one of many steps Gannon has taken to ensure the well-being of its students.
Previously, Gannon partnered with the American Heart Association and the Erie County Department of Health to develop a screening process to detect food insecurity among students and implement a referral process for WIC, SNAP and TFAP, and food resources both onsite and offsite.
The university’s Health Center added validated and evidence-based screening questions from the Hunger Vital Sign toolkit into its electronic health record in Fall 2022. As a result, when a student visits the campus Health Center for a medical appointment, they complete a food insecurity screening in conjunction with the medical screening process. This process allows the Health Services staff to connect students to the internal Store U-Knighted as well as to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest PA to determine the student’s TFAP, SNAP and/or WIC eligibility and to help those students enroll in these community resources. Students who face transportation barriers and qualify for TFAP, can work with the university and the Food Bank to assign a university proxy who can pick up their food for them for additional support.
The university is assessing other screening opportunities across campus as well as enhancing its access to information and education on the food resources available to students, such as during orientation, class enrollment each semester, counseling sessions, visits with their advisers and more.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Hunger-Free Campus Initiative, please visit www.education.com/PAHungerFreeCampus.