WCU awarded $60K grant through PA Hunger-free Campus grant


West Chester University Resource Pantry

The Governor’s Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Education have announced that West Chester University has been selected to receive state grant funding in the amount of $60,000 from the 2023-2024 PA Hunger-Free Campus grant, as part of the Governor’s PA Hunger-Free Campus program. Now in its second year, the grant is designed to combat student hunger at universities, colleges and private licensed schools throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Once again, West Chester University is one of 30 institutions of higher education and private licensed schools in Pennsylvania selected to receive the much-needed funding. As a member of the PA Hunger-Free Campus grant’s first cohort of awardees in January of 2023, the University was awarded $54,399. Director of the Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact Rita Patel Eng submitted the application for this year’s grant on behalf of the Center, which houses the West Chester University Resource Pantry.

“We are deeply grateful to Governor Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Department of Education for providing the necessary funding to help West Chester University reach out to an increasing number of students, so they are not in the position of choosing between buying a textbook, a meal or even basic essentials if they do not have the means to do so,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “West Chester University is committed to the success of all of its students at all phases of their educational journeys. We are proud that so many of our students are crossing the finish line to graduate because many are willing to provide the resources needed to fuel their success.”

Since its inception in 2016, the West Chester University Resource Pantry has been actively supporting student success by minimizing food and basic need insecurity while preparing students for life after graduation. The Pantry, which is open to all undergraduate and graduate students registered at the University regardless of need level, provides fresh food from the University’s South Campus and Tanglewood Gardens. The Pantry also features a room designated to providing toiletries and school supplies, a welcoming intake space for students, and even an area where students can enroll in government benefits called the Benefits Hub. The Resource Pantry is supported by the Office of Financial Aid, the University’s civically-engaged WCU student organizations, as well as very generous donors through the WCU Foundation.

Funds from the generous 2023-2024 grant will be used by the Center to expand the Resource Pantry’s capacity to serve West Chester University students experiencing food insecurity, especially those who are at the highest risk, through additional programs and infrastructure, on the University’s main campus as well as at the Philadelphia location. In keeping with this comprehensive plan, the Center will expand pantry services available for students on its West Chester campus through on-line ordering; increase options for students to access food during evening and weekend hours through on-line order pickup via locker access; increase access to healthy and allergy-friendly food; support the expansion of the Resource Pantry at the Philadelphia location; build upon resources to support students in applying for benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and increase students’ access to off-campus resources.

“On behalf of the WCU students who will greatly benefit from this grant, I would like to thank Governor Shapiro and the PA Department of Education for their commitment to student food security efforts across the Commonwealth,” said Patel Eng. “This fall 2023, the WCU Resource Pantry served the highest number of students it has ever served since the pantry started in 2016. The need is unprecedented as we operate on the generosity of donors from our community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, countless community partners, and grants like the PA Hunger-Free Campus Grant. We welcome the community to learn more about the pantry at https://www.wcupa.edu/_services/civicEngagementSocialImpact/.”

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