Hunger in America is no longer a state of being that can be attached to stereotypical recipient. The face of hunger now includes almost every age group and demographic you could imagine.
It spans from the elderly, working families, those experiencing homelessness; chronic illness, and students of all kinds, just to name a few.
College students in particular are often subjected to conditions that predispose them to food insecurity such as low access to transportation, low access to food storage space, low access to food preparation tools, high expenses, and a low capacity to earn income. Essentially, having no car, no fridge, no kitchen, little income, and large tuition bills make eating well extremely difficult.
Colleges across the country have slowly been realizing this issue and taking steps to address it by establishing food pantries that provide students with food items that they can easily prepare with limited resources.
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program and Southern Maine Community College have recently established one such pantry on the SMCC Midcoast Campus. This pantry is open to all SMCC students and is replenished with roughly 500 pounds of food on a weekly basis. This will amount to about 21,000 meals a year — a small step towards closing the meal gap that college students face.
In January, the Government Accountability Office, a non-partisan congressional watchdog, released a report detailing the findings that not only are college students struggling to meet their own basic needs, but there are also systemic gaps in the American food distribution system that make it increasingly difficult for students to have access to affordable, nutritious food.
The recommendations from the GAO included that eligibility information about SNAP be updated in government informational materials, as many college students may be eligible for SNAP but not know it. Additionally, the GAO recommended that state nutrition offices redouble their efforts to address food insecurity amongst college populations.
Higher education has become somewhat of a necessity for young people in today.s job market, and it.s no secret that getting a degree is a pricey endeavour. Expectations that students should be able to simply get by. on ramen noodles or a can of beans a day are not only detrimental to health and educational outcomes, but also perpetuate the idea that hunger is a state that should be endured without comment. We know that students cannot perform well without proper nutrition, and the National School Lunch Program that we see in public primary and secondary schools is evidence of this. These nutritional needs do not disappear when a student enters college, and sweeping them under the rug is damaging to all parties.
In this day and age there is no need for any individual to go hungry. The United States produces more than enough food to feed the entire population and then some, it is only a matter of ensuring that food makes it into homes and onto tables. If you would like to donate foods that can be distributed to college campuses, please consider donating food items that can be prepared in the microwave or require little preparation.