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PepsiCo’s $250,000 Boost To Combat Food Insecurity In HBCUs

By Earlene Greene

  • PepsiCo is donating $250K to 5 universities to support more than 37,500 students facing food insecurity
  • At least 40% of HBCU students struggle with food insecurity

On Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) campuses, students face the dual challenge of hunger and learning, as food insecurity casts a shadow over their educational journey. This issue underscores the pressing need for comprehensive support systems to ensure that students can thrive academically despite socioeconomic barriers. However, PepsiCo’s donation of $250,000 to five universities, supporting over 37,500 students facing food insecurity, is a good example of corporate social responsibility.  

Why This Matters: The rising cost of college isn’t just about tuition and textbooks anymore. Students are grappling with much more than academic expenses—they’re struggling to meet their basic needs, like finding stable housing and having enough food to eat. This phenomenon, often termed basic needs/food insecurity, is a growing concern among college students, highlighting the broader financial challenges they face while pursuing higher education.

According to data released this year from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, almost 40% of HBCU students report being food insecure.  Additionally, an analysis by The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice, reveals that 23% of all undergraduates and 12% of graduate students experienced food insecurity. This means more than 4 million students are food insecure, and 8% of undergraduate and 5% of graduate students are experiencing homelessness, translating to more than 1.5 million students.

This food insecurity rate among undergraduate students is more than double the food insecurity rate among all U.S. households, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates was 10.5% in 2020. Students struggling with food insecurity score lower grades and are at higher risk of withdrawing before completing their degree or certificate, said Tenille Metti Bowling, director of communications at Swipe Out Hunger..

Situational Awareness: PepsiCo achieved a net revenue of $91.47 billion in 2023, which reflects a growth of 5.9 percent. Their support of HBCU’s is paying it forward to a community who has also supported them. The Black community has a spending power of 1.4 trillion dollars, steadfast brand allegiance, and significant influence on the economy, all of which have played an instrumental role in driving PepsiCo’s bottom-line success. By addressing the needs of HBCUs, corporations like PepsiCo not only contribute to their own prosperity but also play an important role in driving positive social impact and making a real difference in the communities who are a catalyst for their growth.

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