SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)–Students at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) who face food insecurity are getting help from a state grant.

The state has awarded the college $180,000 through a multi-year Hunger Free Campus Initiative grant for fiscal 2023-2024.

Food insecurity saw a marked increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing rise in prices for food, housing, and utilities. STCC has been providing students with food and other assistance through the campus’ Center for Access Services (CAS). The center offers multiple services including emergency financial aid, school supplies, and a food pantry, as well as information on community social services and other resources.

STCC President John B. Cook was among the 15 Massachusetts community college presidents to support a new law creating the Hunger Free Campus Initiative.

“We want to thank you for your commitment to increasing access to academic opportunities for students of color and students experiencing food insecurity,” Massachusetts Gov. Charles D. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn E. Polito stated in a letter to President Cook.

“Your commitment to transform higher education institutional cultures to center equity-minded support services for students is commendable, particularly as the Commonwealth engages in post-COVID efforts to both retain and prepare our future workforce,” Baker and Polito said in the letter.

The Hunger Free Campus Initiative is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).