When students and parents think about college they think of sports, parties, and lots of work but what doesn’t come to mind is not having enough to eat. This is food insecurity. Over 25% of college students are food insecure despite meal plans! How does this type of stuff even happen? Students already have enough on their plate between balancing all the work nevermind worrying about income and food. Some people say that schools should do something about this. Other people say this is not the college’s responsibility to feed the students that attend.
Food insecurity is being in a state where you don’t have a reliable food source to get your quality and nutritious food. Food insecurity is seeping into colleges and 36% percent of university students and 42% percent of community college students are food insecure. Too many students are not getting three meals a day and are skipping meals because the school has put them in a state of poverty where they can’t afford food on a daily basis. This impacts college students in many different ways and some situations are more severe than others.
Colleges in the past forty years have skyrocketed in price. In the 1970s, private colleges were $1,832 which was better in price compared to today’s extreme price of $31,231 in 2013. The price of public colleges also went up in price from $500 to $9,139. This price is extremely high which leaves many students with crippling debt for many years after college. But this does not cover food or living costs which can be expensive in themselves. Dorm rooms at private schools are on average $10,089 per year. These prices are too much for a college student to afford who are already struggling to pay these unrealistic prices. On top of these prices, students can buy a meal plan with a range of swipes, which is how many times you can use the card daily to get food. These meal plan prices that have unlimited swipes are $1,850 a semester. These prices cannot be afforded by every single student. So what happens to the students that can’t afford a meal plan?
These students must push through the days sometimes without anything to eat. The Article “Food, Housing Insecurity” by Selena Duffin says that “Wisconsin HOPE labs released an online survey if more than 40,000 students at 66 community colleges and universities only to find that 36 percent of university students and 42 percent of community college students felt food insecure.” This shows that an overwhelming amount of college students feel food insecure on a daily basis. This impacts college student’s grades and tests which makes it harder for students to graduate because of bad grades. Most students can barely pull this off long enough to earn their degrees. Part of this can be blamed on the high prices of college. In theory, if colleges were not so expensive, students might have money for food and would not run into problems such as food insecurity. Food insecurity heavily affects low-income students who already have little money going into college. These students take a big risk to go to college and get college debts to possibly drop out because they can’t support themselves and buy quality food. Learning on an empty stomach isn’t a part of college and neither is endless amounts of ramen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Students need nutritious meals to get them through the day.
Some students must make hard decisions on whether to buy a book to study for the class or buy some food. These students must often choose between studying or survival. Some may choose the books, while others choose food. To study for a test or get a job to feed themselves.
“A study in the Journal of Nutrition found, for instance, that in a sample of more than 4000 women, food insecurity was a statistically significant predictor of “overweight status. The study found that mildly food insecure participants were a full 30% more likely to be overweight than their food secure counterparts.” Many students turn to cheap fast food that doesn’t contain much nutritional value. Some students use fast food as a resource but become overweight because of all of the unhealthy components that go into fast food. For many college students, nutrition is simply an unaffordable luxury. Between starving and junk food the choice is quite simple, but it’s not a healthy one.
At this moment in time, we do not have enough data to see if food insecurity is getting better or worse. What we can tell though is the financial safety net is not as supportive as it has been in past years. It’s also hard for students to find well-paying jobs as part-time workers. Juggling school and a part-time job aren’t easy for people so students who can’t hold that massive load of work can’t work. Therefore their income is limited or nothing which makes obtaining food very difficult.
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