(GALLOWAY) – Nationwide, nearly a third of college students missed at least one meal per week since the COVID-19 pandemic started. On Friday, Speaker Craig J. Coughlin and Assemblyman John Armato joined with Stockton University’s President Harvey Kesselman to visit the university’s main campus in Galloway for a tour of their new, enlarged food pantry and to discuss efforts addressing food insecurity among students.
“Reliable access to healthy food has a significant impact on people’s wellbeing and their ability to achieve social, emotional, and academic success,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Understanding how our state-level initiatives are empowering our public institutions of higher education to fill food access gaps is critical to evaluating their success and strengthening our efforts. During today’s visit, we heard some incredible stories from students whose struggles have been made more visible by the Hunger-Free Campus Act passed in 2019, and who have gained confidence by having access to a network of on-campus support. ”
The Hunger-Free Campus Act grants are meant to be utilized to help address college hunger, generate sustainable solutions to address basic food needs of students, raise awareness for available food services, and aid in building strategic partnerships between local, state and national groups. On July 12, the Governor announced one million dollars in grant awards to 11 public higher education institutions in New Jersey with $80,038.94 awarded to Stockton University.
“Access to food and higher education go hand in hand,” said Assemblyman John Armato (D-Atlantic). “The ability to graduate can largely depend on whether someone is able to balance feeding themselves, and maybe even their whole family, with pursuing a college degree or technical qualification. A strong food assistance program is therefore critical to uplifting the economic potential of students and Stockton’s ongoing work to boost on-campus support has proved invaluable.”
The tour commenced at the Campus Center for a walking discussion alongside other officials including Commissioner Caren L. Fitzpatrick, and both the Dean of Students, Dr. Haley Baum, and the Assistance Vice President of Engagement and Community Development, Dr. Craig Stambaugh, who oversee Stockton’s food assistance program. The program serves in excess of 200 students per academic year, and due to growing need, the food pantry from the Campus Center has been relocated to a larger site in the Townsend Residential Life Center. A second food pantry is also located at the Stockton Atlantic City campus.
“The Hunger-Free Campus Act recognizes the importance of addressing food insecurity among students,” Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said. “We have seen the impact here on Stockton’s campus and know how much the students appreciate the extra help and support the food pantry provides, not just in food, but in showing we care about them and want them to succeed.”