When 1 in 10 Kids on Campus Doesn’t Have Enough to Eat: Inside the Campaign to Help Feed Hungry College Students

"Joshua Ibarra is a fourth-year journalism and Japanese language student at East Los Angeles College. He takes four courses and walks to and from class across the 82-acre campus in Monterey Park, California. He lugs his backpack, filled with $200 textbooks, his pockets as empty as his growling stomach," according to The 74.

"Ibarra is forced daily to decide between transportation to get to school or food to feed himself through the day — his budget does not allow him to have both. He doesn’t go to the school cafeteria because he doesn’t have a meal plan and the food items that were once moderately priced, Ibarra says, now cost $2 to $3 more.

'If I’m in class and I’m hungry, I just stick through it,' he explained. 'Now that I don’t have financial aid, it’s a bit more difficult. Sometimes I rely on friends. The hope of someone or some [school] event coming along, you know you’ll get free food.'

He is not alone: 13 percent of students at two-year colleges and 11 percent of those at four-year schools do not have enough to eat. Students who are food insecure are more likely to miss a class, drop a class, or not purchase required textbooks. Not having enough food to eat is associated with poorer health and lackluster academic performance, as well as anxiety and depression in some cases — all of which place additional barriers for low-income students determined to make it to and through college.

The dire situation some college students face when it comes to having enough to eat received national attention in November after students at Spelman and Morehouse colleges in Atlanta staged a hunger strike to change a policy that prevented them from giving their unused meals to classmates in need. Student protesters ate vitamins and drank water in solidarity with the roughly 1,400 students on both campuses who did not have a meal plan or regular access to food at school.

The strike lasted for about a week when Aramark, the $9 billion food service giant, and Spelman reached a solution to reduce food insecurity on campus. Spelman president Mary Schmidt Campbell released a statement saying the college will provide up to 7,000 meals during the second semester to students who live off campus and are facing hunger. A petition circulated proposing that Spelman and Morehouse implement a Swipe Out Hunger system allowing students to share excess swipes on their meal plan cards.

Rachel Sumekh, founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, told The 74 that she is working closely with student leaders and administration to bring the “Swipes” program to campus. The longtime hunger-free-campus advocate believes that a basic need like access to food should not stand in the way of a student and his diploma. The nonprofit works closely with colleges to implement meal-sharing programs, serving over 1.4 million meals to food-insecure students on 36 campuses since it was created in 2009."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

 

Publication Date: 1/12/2018

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