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College & University Food Bank Alliance

The United States Department of Agriculture (2013) defines food insecurity as a condition when persons do not have adequate resources to feed themselves, either nutritiously, or at all. Food insecurity remains prevalent among college campuses and threatens student success. An article published in the Journal of College and Character written by Clare Cady, Co-Founder of the College and University Food Bank Alliance, reviews current literature surrounding college students and food insecurity. Gaines, Robb, Knol, & Sickler (2014) found 14% of surveyed students in the United States are currently experiencing food insecurity. Researchers of another study found that 59% of the students surveyed within a university in Oregon experienced food insecurity during the previous year (Patton-Lopez, Lopez-Cevallos, Cancel-Tirado, & Vazquez, 2014). Similar statistics are cited throughout Cady (2014) where 20% to 40% of students in colleges and universities throughout the United States experience food insecurity such as City University of New York, University of California, Merced, Bowling Green State University, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and Ohio University. Food insecurity adversely affects student’s success. More specifically, food insecurity affects student learning, retention, and time taken to obtain a degree (Cady, 2014). Therefore, food insecurity requires immediate attention on college campuses.

The College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA) as well as other college food banks and pantries began as a response to rising food insecurity among college students. With non-traditional college students as a portion of the target audience, CUFBA serves these food-insecure students who often-times manage full-time jobs, are unsupported by families, or support their own families. Furthermore, members of CUFBA serve traditional college students who may struggle financially due to repercussions of rising tuition costs and stagnant wages of workers (Are Students Really Food Insecure?). Because food insecurity poses threats to student success, CUFBA provides support for these students.

What is the College and University Food Bank Alliance?

The College and University Food Bank Alliance envisions alleviating the barriers and challenges associated with food insecurity and hunger so that college and university students can remain in school, and ultimately, earn their degrees. The College and University Food Bank Alliance strives to achieve one of its goals of supporting upcoming and existing food banks on college campuses (Goals). The Alliance is a digital community connecting individuals across the country on college campuses with the mission of alleviating food insecurity, hunger, and poverty among students of higher education. Through the CUFBA website, the alliance works to provide support, training, and other resources for student serving, campus food banks and pantries. CUFBA asks little of its members except, “that as you become able to teach and to share, that you do so.” (Why join CUFBA?).


CUFBA was co-founded by Clare Cady, Director of the Human Services Resource Center at Oregon State University, and Nate Smith, Director of the Michigan State University Student Food Bank. Clare and Nate individually sought out colleagues involved with food banks on their respective campuses and through networking, used one another’s resources to develop the College and University Food Bank Alliance. Clare Cady describes her initial efforts of finding individuals who understood working with food banks on college campuses:

Because the work I do is unique and there are very few people who do it, having colleagues who understood the work that I did, doesn’t happen much. I was really hoping to just find other people. Nobody on my campus was doing this type of work, so [I thought] there must have been others on other campuses doing the work. I knew there were other campus food pantries, so I began calling folks and collecting information. I came across another person who was doing the exact same thing at Michigan State University, Nate Smith. He and I started chatting. He had some funding and I had person power. So we put those together and started the Alliance.

With funding and the personnel available, the Alliance originated with two universities and grew to over 100 universities across the nation (Our Members).

How to join

CUFBA seeks individuals on campuses of higher education engaged in work surrounding food insecurity as well as seek individuals who wish to develop a food bank or work with an existing program. Members of the alliance experience networking opportunities, review institutional best practices for food banks and programming innovations, as well as learn about educational enriching opportunities involving food insecurities and college campus food banks. The Alliance continues expanding each day with outreach and educational opportunities such as webinars, drive-ins, and social media initiatives. For more information on how to join please visit the CUFBA website About and Join page.

Twitter: @CUFBA
Email: cufbanational@gmail.com



Cady, C. L. (2014). Food Insecurity as a Student Issue. Journal of College and Character, 15(4), 265-272.

Gaines, A., Robb, C. A., Knol, L. L., & Sickler, S. (2014). Examining the role of financial factors, resources and skills in predicting food security status among college students. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 38(4), 374-384.

Patton-López, M. M., López-Cevallos, D. F., Cancel-Tirado, D. I., & Vazquez, L. (2014). Prevalence and correlates of food insecurity among students attending a midsize rural university in Oregon. Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 46(3), 209-214.

United State Department of Agriculture. (2013). Definitions of food security: retrieved from http://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-th-us/definitions-of-food-security.aspx#UpOpRXdjuSo