Mellon Foundation grants CUNY funds for food security initiative



Emanuela Gallo, Editor-in-Chief

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation granted CUNY $500,000 to support food security activities for students at CUNY campuses, the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy, or CUNY SPH, announced on Jan. 22.

“This landmark contribution will help students achieve food security in the face of the city’s worst public health crisis in a century and empower us to fulfill our mission by serving our students, CUNY at large and wider New York City community,” Adam Doyno, executive director of the foundation, said.

The two-year grant will fund a new initiative called the Campaign for a Food Secure CUNY, or CFS CUNY.

“Through this initiative, our school fulfills its public health commitment to serve as a resource for the well-being of CUNY’s 275,000 students and their families,” Ayman El-Mohandes, the dean of the School of Public Health & Health Policy, said.

CFS CUNY will assist with enrolling students in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, a monthly food benefits program that allows eligible students to purchase food.

The campaign will also help broaden the services of 18 CUNY food pantries by increasing awareness and access to their food security resources.

CUNY students will be trained as food security advocates who will work to connect students with the pantries’ services as well as community-based help.

CFS CUNY is a joint effort led by Healthy CUNY and the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute.
Healthy CUNY is a university-wide effort to address student health issues that can undermine academic success. The CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute supports action to solve urban food issues.

Nicholas Freudenberg, a distinguished professor of public health at CUNY SPH and the director of Healthy CUNY and the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, is the principal investigator for this grant.

“We are so grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this award that will enable us to respond to the doubling of food insecurity among CUNY students as a result of the pandemic,” he said. “By creating a sustainable system that links the many CUNY, public and private activities seeking to reduce food insecurity among our students, we hope to contribute to a sustainable infrastructure that can move towards ending hunger among our students.”

Lyndon Haviland, the chairman of the CUNY SPH Foundation Board of Directors, spoke about the importance of CFS CUNY’s work.

“CUNY is the greatest engine powering upward mobility,” he said. “If CUNY students go hungry, that cascades into numerous other problems that affect their ability to learn and thereby their ability to excel. We stand with CUNY students. The Campaign for a Food Secure CUNY
comes at the most needed time to support the health and wellbeing of students facing hunger or food insecurity.”

El-Mohandes similarly praised the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its contribution toward CFS CUNY.

“Our mission is to promote and sustain healthier populations in New York City and around the world,” he said. “That must start here at home with our students in our city… We couldn’t be more pleased by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s shared commitment to fighting hunger, building food security and supporting CUNY students.”