With economic insecurity at the level that it is in the United States, it has been especially difficult for more families to send their children to college with adequate supplies. Along with the stress associated with passing their classes, students often find themselves in need of the most basic of necessities, including food or even shelter. As these problems continue to worsen, some college students are heading campaigns to reduce hunger on college campuses.
Students at Risk
College students today are faced with a number of issues that were not as prevalent when their parents attended school - the largest being the instrumental rise in the cost of tuition. The plunge in the buying power of the dollar is a major issue, even though students might not see it that way. It puts teenagers and young adults who come from the middle class and low-income families at risk of experiencing a lack of food while they are away at college. Dining hall meal plans are expensive and offer limited hours of operation, requiring students to supply food for themselves as well. In addition, a significant percentage of college students have children of their own they need to care for, adding to this challenge.
Helping with Basic Needs
The amount of financial aid commonly dispensed to students who need it has not kept in pace with the skyrocketing costs of college tuition and other associated fees. It's not uncommon to hear about college students living in their cars and eating the cheapest meal options that they can find. This typically results in poor nutrition as healthier and fresher foods are more expensive.
As this problem became more obvious, it's led to some colleges working with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in their states to offer student rewards in the form of Food Stamp benefits for keeping above-average grades. Nonprofit organizations like the Swipe Out Hunger program based in UCLA are collecting unused meal credits from meal plans and distributing them to students who need them in the form of free dinging hall passes. The rising issues associated with college student hunger is spreading awareness and fortunately, not going unnoticed.
Saving Money on Meals
Nutritional science courses that teach students about eating healthy are helping to some degree. By learning to prepare foods the natural way, from scratch and with fresh ingredients, a significant amount of money can be saved. Many students don't have the experience of grocery shopping on a budget, and this can cause them to buy foods that could be prepared much more cheaply at home. This knowledge can keep students from running low on money for food and basic needs while away at college.
While the United States is still fighting an ongoing battle with food insecurity, the awareness and public action plans put forth by many organizations are lending a hand.