Combating student hunger: College of DuPage hosts Higher Education Food Security Summit April 22

As part of its ongoing effort to position itself as a leader in addressing food insecurity on college campuses statewide, College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn will host a day-long virtual Higher Education Food Security Summit bringing together subject matter experts to explore advocacy, policy change and initiatives to ensure hunger is not a barrier to student success.

The summit will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, April 22, via Zoom.

Register by Friday, April 8, for a $25 fee and by Friday, April 15, for a $40 fee. College students may attend free of charge. Register at

"Attendees will engage in identifying practices that they can implement at their institutions to provide support, resources and recommendations that reduce hunger as a stress factor for students," said COD Assistant Provost of Student Affairs Diana Del Rosario.

After a welcome from Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, representatives from the Chicago Food Policy Action Council, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, and Swipe Out Hunger will provide context on how colleges can address from a policy and service perspective the needs of students who are struggling to feed themselves and their families.

In addition, students and faculty from various higher education institutions nationwide will share how to advocate for food and basic needs security campuswide.

Prior to the pandemic, Students Against Hunger reports that 30 percent of all college students experienced food insecurity at some point in their college careers.

According to the most recent Hope Center Survey from fall 2020, 38 percent of students in two-year colleges reported experiencing food insecurity in the previous 30 days.

While the pandemic shined an even sharper light on the importance of eliminating food insecurity as an obstacle to student success, COD has long been combating student hunger through various on-campus initiatives and community partnerships, said COD Fuel Pantry Manager Shannon Hernandez.

"Through COD's Fuel Pantry and Fuel Garden, as well as established partnerships with community organizations, we were able to quickly adapt and meet the needs of an increased client base during the pandemic," she said. "Last year, we had an influx of individual clients with many of them bringing home food to their families.

"We expanded our pantry offerings to allow for students to prepare larger meals at home, and we also upgraded to an online ordering and curbside pickup model which makes it easier for students to access and lets them shop stigma-free if that is a concern," Hernandez said. "We are constantly adapting to meeting our students' needs and we will continue to do so moving forward."

College of DuPage is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 21,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The college grants seven associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.

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