A study by the College and University Food Bank Alliance revealed that 48% of college students have undergone bouts of food insecurity. The LA Times reported that California State University has approximately 460,000 students, with one in 10 students being homeless, and one in five students experiencing food insecurity.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food security involves the ability of a person to find sufficient local resources to feed him or herself. A large percentage of California college students are not eating the nutritious or high-quality foods that they should be consuming. Many consider the California State system to be the best and certainly the largest university system in the nation. Therefore, if its students are experiencing food insecurity, there are likely many college students in other university settings experiencing the same food insecurity issues.
What can be Done to Correct the Shortage of Food Among College Students?
Some schools are becoming proactive and finding creative ways to combat college hunger and food insecurity. Rutgers University-Newark has started Pantry RUN, which is a student-run food pantry for students, faculty, and staff at Rutgers University-Newark.
Woodbury University’s “Pops Pantry” serves wholesome food choices for disadvantaged students who face food insecurity. The College and University Food Bank Alliance, an organization that involves campus-based programs of nearly 350 active member institutions works to reduce and alleviate food insecurity, hunger, and poverty among university and college students around the country.
At UCLA, students have formed an organization called Swipe Out Hunger. The organization has partnered with other universities to help food pantries create student meal plans and establish funds for food vouchers for needy students.
On September 12, 2016, the College Student Hunger Relief Act (AB 1747) was signed into law in California. The College Student Hunger Relief Act is a bill created to help low-income college students. The bill provides needy students with better access to food assistance programs, which will reduce food insecurity and other financial barriers that impact low-income students in the college environment. The law mandates that all colleges, including public and private institutions, will create restaurant meals programs to help alleviate hunger problems. Also, food banks will be able to partner with college pantries in further reducing hunger on college campuses.
Food insecurity, or the lack of continuous access to quality, nutritious, and affordable food is common at many colleges and universities throughout the United States. Food insecurity is detrimental not only to academic success, but also the health of students. We need to keep all forms of food insecurity in the public eye and continue to find solutions to alleviate the problem.