The unfortunate issue of food insecurity plagues students of all ages. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, nearly 40% of HBCU students report being food insecure. As HBCU attendance rates increase nationwide, students’ chances of encountering this concern only increase.
As part of PepsiCo’s ongoing efforts to support and elevate HBCUs, the company has announced $250,000 in grants to tackle campus food insecurity. Five universities will receive $50,000 each, including Morgan State University and Prairie View A&M University, Florida A&M University, Jackson State University and Bethune-Cookman University.
The funds will “support existing on-campus efforts, from expanding food pantry capacities to arming students with the long-term skills to avoid future food insecurity pitfalls in the future,” per a news release.
To support its donation, the company worked with Wale, who presented the first check on the field at the Florida Classic between Florida A&M University and Bethune-Cookman University in Orlando on Nov. 18.
As a former HBCU student, Wale knows how important it is for the schools to receive this support.
“This is important; money is great! Having a consistent partnership and bringing mainstream eyes on HBCUs throughout the year is important,” he told Blavity in a recent interview.
The “Chill” rapper mentioned that the need for continuous support has been a long time coming.
Across the five campuses, the grants will support over 37,500 students facing food insecurity by funding on-campus food pantry supplies and groceries, meal plans for homeless students, cooking and meal prep workshops, stipends for student staff within the pantries and more.
In addition, PepsiCo will also supply free meals for approximately 2,000 students at select universities during their respective winter finals weeks in December.
The checks will be distributed to the schools through events, including the Southwestern Athletic Conference football games throughout November.
“Having more sources, outlets, and companies supporting these students who may not have the time to go shopping or the money is important,” he said. “More people and more companies need to be very generous. These are the people that are going to be running the world.”
Wale began his student-athlete career at Robert Morris University and then transferred to Virginia State University, followed by Bowie State University. He hopes the increased support will give the schools the exposure they deserve.
“Maybe I’m a bit of a dreamer, but I want to see a day where HBCUs have really strong sports programs,” he said. “I want to see the day when FAM [FAMU] could beat Penn State, or Howard could be Duke.”
He continued, “With these NIL [deals] and large companies coming in, you never know what the future holds. I would like to see the day I can see a primetime HBCU game on NBC. I want to normalize five-star athletes going to HBCUs because that generates revenue for the school at the end of the day.”
The artist had the chance to step on the familiar astroturf while presenting the $50,000 checks to each institution. He recalled fond memories of games and music from the bands influencing his career to this day.
“I think I carry the energy from the VSU into my career. I always wrote poems, stories, and raps, but I cranked it up to 10 when I got to Virginia State. Those were the seeds that grew the Wale tree,” he said.
In October, the Grammy-nominated artist dropped his latest single, “Max Julian,” and hit #1 on Nigeria’s Top 100 with his feature on Odumodublvck’s “Blood on The Dance Floor.”