Social Determinants of Student Success

Every student deserves access to programs promoting health and well-being

Food insecurity, defined as “the condition of limited or uncertain access to food,” impacts over 45% of college students in the United States. A student’s job, expenses, social network, and financial resources all impact their access to food. When students are concerned about where their next meal is coming from, food insecurity can lead to a lower GPA, poor mental health and a limited social life. The full scope of the number of students impacted is relatively unknown, leading to student food insecurity being an under recognized issue with limited infrastructure to address it.  

There is no doubt that food security and mental health services are essential for students attending Colorado institutions of higher education and COVID-19 has only made those services more crucial. In fact, a recent Hanover Research study on fall enrollment and COVID-19’s impact on returning students shows mental health as one of the top three concerns in determining if they will return in the fall. Which is why it is so essential that our institutions prioritize services and programs that support the food security and mental health needs of students. The Colorado Department of Higher Education is excited to have partnered with Young Invincibles, Hunger Free Colorado, the National Mental Health Innovation Center, and our state agency partners to develop the “Hunger Free” and “Healthy Minds” campus checklist for institutions of higher education.  

Colleges and universities have the responsibility to promote student success beyond just the classroom by providing students with basic needs such as food, housing, and financial stability. Though schools want the best for their students, many can be met by financial or capacity barriers when trying to implement programs. The checklist is created to work with existing resources on college campuses and offers a variety of options to ensure that the needs of students are met while still working within available resources. Most schools have food pantries, some form of SNAP assistance and an individual or department that can help students access food services. Below you can find resources to support the success of our students. 

Healthy Minds Designated Schools

  • Colorado Mountain College (all campuses)
  • Colorado State University
  • Colorado State University - Pueblo
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver

Hunger Free Designated Schools

  • Colorado Mountain College (all campuses)
  • Colorado State University
  • Colorado State University - Pueblo
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Colorado Denver

"Healthy Minds" campus checklist responses here (November 19, 2021)

"Hunger Free" campus checklist responses here (November 19, 2021)

Apply for SNAP benefits

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low-income households in Colorado purchase food. It provides a monthly benefit that helps families and individuals buy the food they need for good health. 

Apply for WIC: 

  • WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Apply for other benefits: 

  • There are other benefit programs (like Medicaid) for which you may be eligible.  To find out if you are eligible and apply, go to the Colorado PEAK website and create an account. 

Other Resources:

For specific questions or comments please contact: 

Michael Vente 

Chief Performance Officer

Senior Director of Research and Data Governance

Colorado Department of Higher Education 

Christina Carrillo

Academic Policy Officer and Advocate

Colorado Department of Higher Education