Grambling State receives HBCU Nutrition Hub designation, $25,000 grant to address food insecurity

Grambling State University (GSU) staff endeavor daily to serve the whole student. That means providing resources that serve every need, including food insecurity. The goal has become more attainable thanks to a $25,000 grant from No Kid Hungry, a national campaign overseen by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world that has recognized the institution as an HBCU Nutrition Hub.

The funding will be used to support existing food access initiatives, create sustainable solutions through collaboration, expand reach and impact, support enrollment in federal food assistance programs, and promote access to nutritious meals for children through meal programs.

GSU currently has existing food access initiatives, including the Tiger Resource Room powered by What-A-Burger, a Campus Garden, and the Hunger-Free Campus Task Force.

Students at GSU can access the Tiger Resource Room, which has nonperishable food items, bottled water, and other snack food free of charge at their leisure.

The office of Campus Living and Housing oversees the garden, and the planting of vegetables is underway for the season.

“We allocate human capital in the form of staff volunteers, and student organizations to manage food access initiatives and provide additional support services,” said Marcus Kennedy, Director of Campus Activities, Student Engagement, and the Favrot Student Union. “These initiatives are housed in Campus Activities and Student Engagement, a division of Student Affairs. We collaborate with student organizations, and various departments within the university, to ensure a holistic approach to addressing food insecurity.”

“These partnerships allow for a comprehensive response that considers not only food access but also other support services that students may require. We often conduct awareness and educational programs to reduce the stigma surrounding food insecurity, increase understanding of available basic needs services, and promote a culture of empathy and support within the campus community.”

As part of ACT 719 of the Louisiana Regular Legislative Session, GSU has established a Hunger-Free Task Force that addresses the hunger needs of our students. The application for the newly-awarded grant was completed by the members of a task force headed by Kennedy that includes GSU staff members Barbara Payne, Gavin Hamms, Katrina Burks, Tyra Muhammad, Bridgette Williams, Tisha Arnold, Britni Grayson, Dr. Gavin Hamms, Dawn Holmes, Antionette Livingston and Dr. Rudolph Ellis along with students Elijah Neal and Kamille Corner.

Kennedy said that fighting against food insecurity at GSU and the surrounding community is crucial for ensuring the well-being and success of its students and residents, adding that expected outcomes and metrics of success in addressing food insecurity could include increased access to affordable and nutritious food options, decreased reliance on emergency food assistance, and improved overall health and academic performance among students.

“Some students are not aware of the food assistance programs available to them leading to underutilization of resources,” Kennedy said. “Our program relies on limited funding and resources, which can restrict our ability to fully address the needs of all food-insecure students. Insufficient resources result in limited food availability, restricted operating hours, and a lack of diverse nutritional items. The operating hours of our food pantry can sometimes be inconvenient for all students, especially ones with busy schedules or transportation challenges, and the stigma associated with seeking food assistance and cultural barriers can prevent some students from accessing available resources. Programs may not always be culturally sensitive or cater to the diverse needs of a student population.”