Four Colorado universities have earned the “Hunger Free and Healthy Minds” designation for their commitment to ending hunger on campus and addressing the mental health needs of their students.
The universities are Colorado State University, Colorado State University Pueblo, Fort Lewis College, and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
The initiative was first introduced by the state last February, with the state Department of Education emphasizing the need for students to receive assistance with food and mental wellbeing.
Executive Director Angie Paccione of the state’s higher education department expressed how proud the department is.
“These campuses are working hard to ensure their students have the necessary support and resources to be healthy, fulfilled and engaged citizens. They are true Colorado leaders and innovators in this work,” she said.
Creating Support Systems for Students
Food insecurity affects more than 45 percent of college students across the country, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education. With almost half of all college students struggling with their food budgets, the department of higher education laid out the following criteria universities needed to meet to receive the hunger-free designation:
- Operate a food pantry;
- Provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment assistance;
- Hold at least one food security awareness event per year;
- Collect data and report on student food insecurity.
Meanwhile, campuses needed to meet the following criteria to receive the mental health designation:
- Provide mental health resources on course syllabi, or on the back of all new student ID cards;
- Offer mental health programs;
- Hold an annual awareness event;
- Provide avenues and community resources for students to access support online.
Universities that receive the designation have already implemented some or all of the programs on their campuses to better meet the needs of their students.
Governor Jared Polis emphasized the need for higher education institutions in Colorado to help their students and communities.
“Colorado is breaking down barriers and stigmas and making it easier for students to focus on learning by working to erase hunger and provide mental health services,” he said.