More than 1,000 CUNY students struggling to afford food on campus are getting some relief through a new pilot program funded by the City Council.
Roughly 1,250 CUNY students got food vouchers of $400 each this fall to use in college cafeterias as part of a million-dollar effort to combat student hunger in the city university system. Another 1250 vouchers will be given out spring semester.
Borough of Manhattan Community College student Letisha Moumin said the extra cash for food helped her avoid having to make the painful decision between eating and getting to class.
“I had to choose between…money for my MetroCard and money to buy food, and I was choosing money for my MetroCard,” she said.
“There was one instance where I almost passed out before I could eat,” she said.
Growing numbers of college students can’t afford food or housing while they’re taking college classes. Half of the students in a recent CUNY survey said there was a point in the previous 30 days when they didn’t know how they were going to get their next meal.
CUNY campuses already have centers where students can apply for social services including food stamps, and many have opened food pantries. The $1 million pilot program funded by the City Council is the latest effort to make sure no city college students are going hungry.
The initial round of vouchers went out to students who demonstrated financial need but weren’t receiving food stamps, city officials said. The $400 allotment for the semester covers the equivalent of 3 $10 meals a week for 13 weeks, officials said.
Moumin said the voucher gave her freedom to focus on her BMCC studies, and the other big responsibility in her life: her two kids.
“Now, when I’m leaving my house,” she said, “I’m more focused on them.”