Many college students around the world suffer from food insecurity. Unfortunately, food insecurity has become a common problem within the last few years that it is now a norm, with memes rotating around the internet about how many of the students’ daily diet consists mainly of ramen noodles and water. However, this is the sad reality. Many students can only afford fast foods and processed foods, which isn’t the healthiest diet. College students need the nutrition in order to succeed in their academics and other parts of their lives.
In today’s blog, I will be discussing what is food insecurity, how much of a problem it has become for many college students, and ways to combat food insecurity and unstable housing on campus.
First, let’s define the term. What is food insecurity? According to Feeding America, food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life. In the United States, 1 in 9 people struggle with hunger. A 2018 study found that 36% of college students are experiencing hunger and lack stable housing. Researchers from Temple University surveyed over 100 institutions, and 17 percent said that they had been homeless within the past year while 45 percent said that they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. Moreover, marginalized groups typically experience higher rates of insecurity than other demographic groups. Out of all of the groups, American Indians and Blacks were more likely to experience food insecurity and unstable housing. To sum it up, food insecurity can have a drastic impact, with other groups being at a disadvantage. Serious health complications and damages can also have a detrimental effect on the students’ brains and mental capabilities to do well in school.
Furthermore, meal plans are too expensive for many college students to afford. Because of this, students depend on much unhealthier and cheaper options, like fast foods, simply because that is what they can afford.
So, what can we do to help?
For one, try to engage community organizations in proactive support. In the extracurricular organizations that you are a part of, bring awareness and support to those who are struggling with food insecurity. Contact non-profit organizations and raise donations. Host fundraisers and correspond with the student government at your university/college. Do whatever you can to bring awareness to food insecurity, as that will, ultimately, help thousands of students who are in need.
Another way that you can help is by contacting the dean of your university. Most likely freshman students have a free meal plan if they are living on-campus dorms, but for those who are staying in apartments or off-campus, they are not able to get a free meal plan. Because of this, it’s good to communicate with your dean to spread awareness for food insecurity, whether it’s by instilling meal voucher programs within the university or hosting online webinars (especially during this time) that can facilitate ideas of how to combat food insecurity.
This is a national tragedy, and we must do everything in our power to help those who are struggling with food insecurity and unstable housing. Food insecurity is a problem, and if we don’t do something about it, it can ravage the country and our world, robbing the futures of many who need our help.