What is CUFBA?
The College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA) is a professional organization consisting of campus-based programs focused on alleviating food insecurity, hunger, and poverty among college and university students in the United States. Food insecurity has increasingly become an issue on college and university campuses and can pose a significant barrier to student success. Understanding that education is the key to getting out of poverty and/or improving students’ prospects after graduation, CUFBA seeks to provide support, training, and resources for campus food banks/pantries that primarily serve students.

Why campus-based food banks?
College students often have limited transportation options and community-based food resources are typically not located close to campuses. Additionally, college students while food insecure might not meet community-based agency requirements and/or may be uncomfortable in accessing services off campus. Therefore, campus-based food banks/pantries provide easily accessible and navigable food security resources for students.

What other interventions are there?
While CUFBA has focused on campus pantries and food banks for the past 5 years, our work is expanding to understand and teach additional interventions to end student hunger. These include:

  • Benefits access such as SNAP or WIC
  • Food scholarships
  • Food subsidies
  • Food recovery programs
  • Expansion of policies like the National School Lunch Program
  • Campus community gardens
  • Donation of campus dining center swipes

Are students really food insecure?
Postsecondary enrollment patterns show that more and more college students do not fit the perception of the typical college student (18-22 years old with support from home). What has long been termed the “non-traditional” student is fast becoming the average college student. Many students are now supporting families and working full-time while attending college. These students are often food insecure or one missed pay check away from being food insecure. Additionally, as college costs have risen and wages for the vast majority of workers have remained constant or decreased more “traditional” college students are facing the prospects of less support from home. These students can be food insecure too. Food insecurity cuts across all demographic statuses, enrollment levels, and geographic locations. Empty cupboards and scrapping by are a way a life for far too many students and these stressors effect student success (learning, grades, graduation, and time to degree). Addressing food insecurity on campus serves both a human service and educational need. Read more here in a study by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

What kinds of food banks are there?
Campus-based food banks and pantries run the gamut of resource providers. Finding the resources and best practices that fit your campus’ situation is why CUFBA was created. As you explore the CUFBA site and our members’ pages you will see some food pantries that operate out of a closest and some food banks that have large store rooms and supply upwards of 50,000 pounds of food a year. You will also learn about emergency food banks, food banks that hold regular distributions, and food banks that hold set shopping hours. Campus-based food banks are in every sector and every region of the country. You will find food banks from community colleges to large research universities and from Oregon to Maine and all points in between.

How do I find resources on starting a campus food bank?
You came to the right place! CUFBA was started to support both existing and emerging campus food banks, so please join up and take advantage of being able to connect with the other member institutions. Ask questions, make contacts, and spend some time in our “resources” tab. Take what you need, and leave what you know. To share resources email Brandon Mathews. As we begin to expand our outreach and educational programming, keep your eyes peeled for webinars, drive-ins, and other educational opportunities we are hoping to offer. All we ask is that as you become able to teach and to share, that you do so.

How do I join, and what are the membership requirements?
Click on the Join tab on our home page to fill out a membership form. You will be contacted by us with further information, and will be added to our website and mailing lists. As for requirements, we are looking to include schools that have existing food bank programs (of any kind), and schools who are developing them. Having trouble joining or need to update your information? Email Sonal Chauhan.

I joined, now what?
You will receive resources and updates through our member newsletter and additional communications. Reach out to member schools to make contact, to ask questions, or perhaps to engage in a meetup within your region. Our hope is that CUFBA will grow beyond the virtual, and become a professional organization that offers things like an annual meeting, trainings, and research opportunities. If you have ideas you want to share please reach out to Clare Cady.