It does not take much to imagine what it is like to try to study or sit in class if you are chronically hungry or malnourished. While some of us may joke that students are always “starving”, the issue of chronic or episodic hunger among college students is now significant, and not at all funny.
Let go of your image of the endless cafeteria options at your alma mater or the tandoori oven and demonstration kitchen at Washington University in St. Louis. Think instead of students who live off-campus, sharing a much less-expensive small rental space and an empty refrigerator with others who are struggling to make ends meet. Imagine those who work two jobs and go to school full-time, but have nothing left for food after the tuition and utility bills are paid.
In our office we stock granola bars and bags of nuts, easy for a student to grab and portable enough to fill pockets on the way out the door. After every event, we pack leftovers and send them home with our student guests. We also stock grocery gift cards in increments of $50, which our advising staff give to students who are in need of emergency provisions while we work together on longer-term solutions to budget issues.
Nationally, increasing attention has centered on hunger in the ranks at colleges and universities. At community colleges, an estimated two-thirds of the population experience episodic food shortages and one-third are chronically hungry. A 2016 national report put the rate of hunger among all college students at 22%. Of course, working students and students on financial aid are the majority of students suffering hunger; they are also the vast majority of the students of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.
Hunger among college students is a by-product of college pricing, underfunding, and inattention to financial need. These are systemic issues which we and others are working to solve at the school, state, and federal levels. In the meantime, students are literally starving.
If you are moved to respond, you can make a contribution directly to the Food for Thought campaign at The Scholarship Foundation by clicking here:
You can even do so as a tribute gift, giving someone a holiday gift or year-end thank you through providing meals for hungry students. We’ll handle all the details of making certain your gift reaches students in need and that notification goes out immediately to the individual you are honoring with your tribute gift:
– Faith Sandler