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The next time you pass college students in your town, or see college campuses on the news, we suggest you consider the following: About 1 in 3 college or university students in the United States is food insecure.
This is according to the Hope Center’s #RealCollege survey of 195,000 students in 42 states, and the results are staggering. A quarter of 2-year and 4-year college students reported skipping meals or eating less. And this is while they are taking classes, perhaps maintaining one or more jobs or internships, maintaining social and professional ties.
And these challenges are highly emphasized for Blacks and Indigenous peoples. The Hope Center found that 75% of Indigenous and 70% of Black students face some degree of food insecurity, housing insecurity, or homelessness. I discovered that there is
Not surprisingly, COVID-19 made things worse.research from journals nutrients found that hunger among tertiary-educated students surged during the pandemic. Surprisingly, 59.6% of her students reported being food insecure as a result of COVID-19. This is a crisis that has long been overlooked.
But let’s talk about solutions. Qualifying for food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) is very complicated, and until recently college students had to navigate even more.
Before the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was passed last year, college students seeking SNAP not only met all existing eligibility criteria, but also one additional requirement, such as caring for children, working part-time, or completing time. I had to. A vocational study program funded by the state or federal government. This law temporarily expanded access to SNAP to include college students with $0 in expected family contributions or eligible to participate in work-learning programs. These are important differences that make things a little easier.
But — there’s always a “but” in something like this, isn’t there? This extension is temporary. It’s currently set to expire a month after the end of the public health emergency, which is expected to end in mid-October. Legislators like McGovern are warning of an imminent cliff of hunger unless action is taken against these expanded interests. , hopes it will continue to benefit those who need it.
Last week, I was chatting with one of my food heroines, Kathleen Merrigan of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. She also served as Undersecretary of Agriculture in the Obama administration and is a member of the Food Tank Academic Advisory Group. We were discussing the 2021 College Hunger Act. This will help expand access to SNAP to certain low-income students who are employed for a minimum of 10 hours per week during the academic year and are eligible for federal Pell Grants. $0 family donations, or independent.
“Some say people who can’t afford to buy food shouldn’t go to college. I couldn’t disagree more,” she told me. “The smart way is to provide students with the food they need to earn a college diploma and the career opportunities it offers.”
she is absolutely right. She shouldn’t struggle to get the education she deserves just because she can’t afford to eat. Food tankers like you already know how much I am influenced by youth movements around the world. Helping people access affordable food is the cornerstone of a better food system. Our college’s farmers, scientists, authors, advocates, chefs, city planners, teachers and more are some of the visionaries and hard-working people building a better world.
Thankfully, many great organizations are already working to help students. Swipe Out Hunger, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger on college campuses, is advocating passage of a Hunger Free Campus Bill that will fund public colleges and universities that are addressing student hunger on campus. . This already he has been adopted in 8 states and introduced in 7 more states. In addition, the Food Research and Action Center will authorize additional measures, including the Enhanced Access to SNAP Act (my favorite EATS Act), to permanently address unfair college SNAP access rules for low-income students. advocating the law. And the Hope Center, which conducts the research I mentioned earlier, states that the federal SNAP expansion will also affect who is eligible for SNAP benefits, so the state level to clarify eligibility. It points out that it is necessary to include measures for
College students are already facing so many hurdles beyond just trying to get a quality education, and food insecurity shouldn’t be one of them. Nor should it be a partisan issue. I sincerely hope that Congress can act at the national level and states and cities can act at the more local level. Also, I hope you can help too. You can also get involved in organizations on campus near you by helping with food collection or by donating money or food to the on-campus pantry.
Like I said before, we all need to find ways to use our unique skills to put up a good fight. Please email to
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Photo credit: Ryan Jacobson, Unsplash