DENVER, CO, June 21, 2021 - The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE), today announced that four institutions of higher education—Colorado State University, Colorado State University Pueblo, Fort Lewis College, and Metropolitan State University of Denver have earned Hunger Free and Healthy Minds designations for their work to end hunger and address the mental health needs of their students.
This comes after the release of the Department's Hunger Free and Healthy Minds Campus Checklists to encourage the state's postsecondary intuitions of higher education to apply for Hunger Free and Healthy Minds campus designations.
Colorado colleges and universities used the checklists to implement four core programs and six focused initiatives to receive a hunger free or healthy minds designation.
"It's so important that Colorado higher-education institutions in Pueblo, Fort Collins, Durango, and Denver are stepping up to help their students and communities and we encourage others to do the same," said Gov. Jared Polis. "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."
The four campuses receiving a Hunger Free designation all operate food pantries, provide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment assistance, hold at least one food security awareness event per year, and collect and report on student food insecurity. For instance, Fort Lewis College hosts at least one food security awareness event each year, often a campus-wide food drive. This year the Grub Hub is collaborating with their Environmental Center and Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to host "Drag Me to Mother Earth," a drag show that focuses on sustainability and food security and benefits the campus pantry through donations. Grub Hub will distribute free food at this event. CSU Pueblo implemented an online appointment service for students to schedule a time to visit the Pack Pantry. Their goal is to provide wraparound services for students who visit the Pack Pantry.
The four campuses receiving a Healthy Minds designation all include mental health resources on course syllabi or on the back of all new student ID cards. In addition, all offer multiple mental health programs—for instance, MSU Denver offers weekly Healthy Pursuits Yoga and Zumba classes free to students affiliated with campus. MSU Denver also partners to offer no-charge nutritional counseling to students, faculty, and staff. This service has been provided in-person and has since transitioned to a telehealth format. CSU Health Network has a strong partnership with CSU Social and provides regular takeovers of the University's Instagram stories to share mental health-related content. These efforts regularly reach more than 10,000 students.
"We are extremely proud of the four campuses receiving Hunger Free and Healthy Minds designations today," said Dr. Angie Paccione, CDHE executive director. "These campuses are working hard to ensure their students have the necessary supports and resources to be healthy, fulfilled, and engaged citizens. They are true Colorado leaders and innovators in this work."
The state's plan for higher education, Colorado Rises, calls for 66 percent of adults to earn a certificate or degree by 2025. To get there, Colorado must address the barriers to student success some of which are highlighted above.
For more information, visit https://highered.colorado.gov/social-determinants-of-student-success.