First Lady Frances Wolf Participates in First Spouse Panel Discussion on Student Advocacy and College Hunger 

July 22, 2022

First Lady Frances Wolf joined First Lady of Delaware Tracey Quillen-Carney and First Lady of Massachusetts Lauren Baker in a virtual conversation Thursday evening organized by Nazun to highlight the importance of student advocacy and the need to address hunger on college campuses. Mrs. Wolf highlighted Pennsylvania’s 2022-2023 state budget allocation of $1 million to create the Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program.  

“The Hunger-Free Campus Grant Program will help schools set up and expand campus food pantries, increase Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach, improve data gathering, and take other efforts needed to meet the nutritional needs of their student population,” said First Lady Wolf. “College students are pursuing careers that will benefit all of Pennsylvania, so it is important that we take steps like this to support their well-being.” 

National studies estimate that one in three college students are food insecure, and roughly 52% of students who faced food or housing insecurity in 2020 did not apply for support because they did not know how.  

College student demographics have changed drastically in recent years, with a 2018 Government Accountability Office study finding that about half of all undergraduate students in 2016 were ​responsible for their own finances and the average age of a college student was 25 years old. About 22% of all undergraduates that year had dependent children of their own, and 14% were single parents.  

Many of the college students who arecoming out of high school have relied on free or reduced priced meals throughout their education. Those programs do not exist for college students – even though the student’s socio-economic status likely has not changed. The food challenges they had in grade school follow them into the next phase of their lives and may even become more challenging as they juggle new financial responsibilities like housing, books, and other costs.  

The Wolf Administration has long demonstrated its commitment to addressing the needs of college students by:   

Expanding SNAP eligibility to make it more accessible to college students;

Launching the first-of-its-kind “It’s On Us PA” Campus Sexual Assault Prevention initiative;  

Ensuring Pennsylvanians would no longer need to paystate income tax on student loan debt relief from the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program and the Pennsylvania Student Loan Relief for Nurses (SLRN) Program;

Ushering in the Fostering Independence Through Education Act to provide tuition waivers for foster care youth; and  

Offering education assistance to National Guard members and their families.  

Nazun, a national organization based in Philadelphia, develops leaders, builds communities of people eager to take action to end campus hunger, and works collectively to solve other urgent social challenges. Every week, thousands of students across 60+ chapters in the U.S. and Canada meet to bake challah and discuss advocacy tactics to address food insecurity on campus. After baking, the students sell the challah on campus to their peers, faculty and community members, with profits going to both local and national anti-hunger efforts.  

The conversation, which was part of Nazun Summer Convenings: Bake, Connect, and Create Change series, also touched on the importance of student advocacy efforts, with all of the First Spouses encouraging students to get involved in any way they can. Mrs. Wolf encouraged students to discover what they are passionate about and jump in wherever and however they can.  

“It is important to identify your strengths and focus your energy on using those strengths to help the causes you care about,” said First Lady Wolf. “Students’ voices and experiences matter, and those elements alone mean that they deserve to have a seat at the table.” 

A recording of the conversation can be found at facebook.com/nazunleaders

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