As the saying goes, food feeds the body, mind, and soul. And for students, who often find themselves under a lot of pressure, proper nutrition is essential. To ensure that all its students have access to healthy food, New York Institute of Technology launched the Bear Bytes initiative. Through a collaborative effort among campus partners, the NYIT School of Management Student Advisory Board, and community resources, the program provides food and other health and wellness resources as well as encourages and supports proper nutrition.
According to a National College and University Basic Needs Insecurity Report conducted in 2019, 45 percent of college students surveyed at 123 institutions reported experiencing food insecurity over 30 days. The study also found a statistically significant relationship with self-reported poor physical health, symptoms of depression, and higher perceived stress. Food insecurity was also found to have an impact on academic performance as students who experience food insecurity report lower completion and credit attainment rates.
“Now more than ever, a healthy lifestyle, including access to food and wellness resources, is essential for students to reach their highest personal and academic potential,” said Tiffani Blake, M.Ed., interim assistant provost for student engagement and development.
To assess the needs of students and guide its own response, New York Tech conducted a Food Insecurity Survey in fall 2019. Of those students at the New York campuses who responded, over half answered “yes” to having eaten less food than they thought they should have due to not having enough money over the course of a month. In a follow-up question to this group, more than a quarter of students stated that they had eaten less than they thought they should have for more than 10 days in the month prior to taking the survey.
Given these findings, New York Tech will launch two programs on both the Long Island and New York City campuses: Smart Meals and the Grizzly Cupboard. The Smart Meals program, already in place, offers individualized assistance to students. Through this program, advisors will help identify and explore financial resources that can be used to purchase food items. The Grizzly Cupboard, launching October 1, is New York Tech’s food pantry. This service is free-of-charge to all enrolled undergraduate and graduate students. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, anyone who wishes to visit the pantry must submit a food order request form.
Students are also encouraged to explore On-Campus Dining options. Non-residential students can enroll in the Commuter Plus meal plan to receive tax-free benefits when dining on campus.
“I am excited to share this new initiative that shows New York Tech’s dedication to the holistic well-being and development of our students. It is my hope that their experiences with Bear Bytes positively influence their healthy decision-making both now and in the future,” said Blake.
Learn more about the Bear Bytes initiative as well as other outside resources, including Eat Right, Hunger Free America Online Food Assistance Resource, and the United Way.