Starving College Students?

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  • #177944

    norules
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    http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/06/pf/college/college-food-pantry/index.html?iid=SF_LN

    Is there really a hunger epedimic in the US colleges? Aren’t the students adults and have to learn how to budget for food and living expenses? I really don’t understand this problem…

    I remember buying Ramen, canned foods and bread to live on. Sometimes a can of beans and bread was dinner. Canned tuna was popular. Pasta is always cheap. Sometimes we loaded up on Taco Bell burritos specials. I don’t remember starving.

    You are 18-22, probably the best age where you can afford to eat cheap, unhealthy food. Granted it might not be all healthy, but you will not starve. Isn’t that all part of “experience” of going to college that people refer to?

    Am I missing something?

    There’s a hunger problem on America’s college campuses
    by Katie Lobosco @KatieLobosco December 6, 2016: 10:11 AM ET

    Montclair State University’s food pantry is tucked away down a maze of hallways in the student center. Like the hunger problem on campus itself, the pantry is not quite out in the open.

    It opened on the New Jersey college’s campus in April, after administrators started hearing from students who said they were hungry and didn’t have enough money for food. They surveyed students, finding that more than half said they or someone they know experiences “food insecurity” — the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food.

    On one Thursday in December, 33 students visited the food pantry, taking what they need to help make ends meet. They left with bread, cereal, milk, spaghetti, canned vegetables, as well as personal items like shampoo and soap.
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    “Even if you don’t hear about hunger being a problem, there’s probably a population on campus in need,” said Megan Breitenbach, a student who volunteers at Montclair State’s pantry.

    The number of food pantries on college campuses is exploding. While there’s no official count, membership in the College and University Food Bank Alliance has quadrupled in the past two years. It currently has 398 members.

    “Do I think there’s always been a need? I would say yes. But students are being more vocal about it,” said Fatima deCarvalho, the Associate Dean of Students at Montclair State.

    Enrollment at the public university is at a record high. The majority of its 21,000 students don’t live on campus and don’t have a meal plan. In order to take advantage of the campus’s food pantry, the financial aid office must first verify their need, though eligibility is considered on a case-by-case basis. Many students need a leg up for the time being because of an extenuating circumstance, deCarvalho said.

    While the economy has rebounded, the cost of college continues to rise faster than income. The average total cost rose 10% over the past five years at public colleges and by 12% at private institutions. Median family income rose just 7% over the same time period.

    A new report shows that the college campus hunger problem goes far beyond a few sad stories. It surveyed more than 3,000 students at a mix of 34 community and four-year colleges, finding that 48% experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days.

    The data suggests that hunger is more common among college students than the U.S. population as a whole, in which 14% of households experience food insecurity each year, according to the government.
    montclair state food pantry

    “A majority of students who are food insecure were also working and receiving financial aid,” said Clare Cady, an author of the report and co-founder of CUFBA.

    The study found that 56% of food insecure students were currently employed, more than half received a federal grant, and 18% had received a private scholarship.

    “We’re talking about students who are doing all the things we’d expect them to do and they’re still not able to support themselves while in school,” Cady said.

    Across the country, most campus food pantries are funded through donations, but some receive stipends from a school group. They’re widespread, but are mostly at public universities. They serve students at big names like Michigan State University, the University of Missouri, Penn State and Syracuse, as well as smaller community colleges.

    At Montclair State, the food pantry operates solely on donations. The Alumni Relations and Annual Giving foundation raised $10,000 over the summer and New Jersey-based Inserra Supermarkets gave the pantry a refrigerator and makes regular food donations.

    As word has spread, more students are using the pantry.

    “But it’s still one of those things people don’t talk about,” said Chris Beckus, another student volunteer.

    The pantry itself, a windowless room with fluorescent lights, isn’t exactly easy to stumble upon. But those who need it are finding it.

    “It would be wonderful if one day we just don’t need it anymore,” deCarvalho said.
    CNNMoney (New York) First published December 6, 2016: 10:11 AM ET

  • #295576

    newmom
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    I think with tuition and housing costs rising far faster than financial aid and income from part time jobs, it’s harder than ever for students to make ends meet. I have said this before, but by my last year of college, tuition had more than tripled from my first year, and yet I wasn’t making any more money in my on campus job (which paid far higher than all the other jobs off-campus that only paid minimum wage) and I wasn’t receiving triple the financial aid. I did things to try and make my money stretch farther such as move away farther from campus were rents were less, but then I was too far to ride my bike and I had to buy an expensive parking permit and buy more gas for my car. My on campus job only paid once a month, so those last few days I often lived on graham crackers, ramen, and noodles. I think it’s much harder now than it was then too. Do I think a lot of kids don’t know how to manage money and budget? Yes. I would like to see food closets such as this make the kids have to sit down with someone and do a budget and see if and where things can be cut, and hold kids to a budgeting agreement, so that kids who truly have a need and aren’t blowing money on parties are getting services. But I do think a lot more kids need help these days. So yes, I can see a need for food pantries.

  • #295579

    norules
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    Or is it “hey, free food, grab some”. I really can’t believe a student cannot afford a 59 cent ramen noodle, if they are going to college. If you are going to college, you better be able to afford what comes with it. You made a choice to go to college.

    Funny thing about article. What the heck is “food insecurity”? So, they ain’t starving. They just wonder when are they going to eat next? Heck, they probably have grade insecurity too. So give them free “A’s”, don’t want them to feel stressed. God forbid.

  • #295578

    Scarlet
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    They have a food pantry at Sac State – I’ve had my kids drop off food to it.

  • #295583

    SteveB6509
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    @norules 128318 wrote:

    Or is it “hey, free food, grab some”.

    For the vast majority of the students going to these pantries, it is not. There are many students doing what they can to make ends meet and there are many need assistance. I doubt there is anyone in this category at Stanford but in the community colleges, there are a lot of people who know the education will be extremely valuable and are doing what they can to stay in – even if they don’t have the money for food every month.

  • #295580

    norules
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    I see your points. I may not necessarily agree with all of them. But, I did ask what I was missing about the article. The article mentions kids at Syracuse, Michigan State, and other big name colleges are using this program.

    I guess my thought is, if you know someone who is working hard in college and is need of food, couldn’t you maybe make arrangement with them to give them food to help them? Kind of like a care package? Then you know you are helping someone out that you know. Why blindly give it out when you don’t know who is taking the free food and if they really need it?

    I am still wrapping my head around the term “food insecurity”. Talk to a poor starving person about “food insecurity”. Heck, go to a third world country and ask them about “food insecurity”.

    Do these kids go out and buy booze? Do they go out for entertainment, go to movies, go on trips? Do they check to see what these kids are spending their money on?
    Maybe your friends want to go to the movies, but if you haven’t eaten and all you have is $10, do you go to the supermarket to get food or go to the movie? To me this program tells the college kids, go to the movie we have free food for you here.

  • #295577

    newmom
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    @norules 128318 wrote:

    Or is it “hey, free food, grab some”. I really can’t believe a student cannot afford a 59 cent ramen noodle, if they are going to college. If you are going to college, you better be able to afford what comes with it. You made a choice to go to college.

    Funny thing about article. What the heck is “food insecurity”? So, they ain’t starving. They just wonder when are they going to eat next? Heck, they probably have grade insecurity too. So give them free “A’s”, don’t want them to feel stressed. God forbid.

    The problem is when tuition increases but financial aid and income do not. No one could have guessed that tuition would triple by the start if my 4th year I was at school, and that increase made far more students eligible for aid, however the amount of aid available to all students didn’t increase enough to nearly cover everyone. Where does that leave students who may have a year left of school? They stick it out and try and make it and might go hungry. A food pantry could really come in handy. But like I said-I would like to see a budgeting class or something there too, to help “trim the fat” and make sure the kids that really need help are getting it, rather than kids who spent their monthly allowance on beer and now are hungry.

  • #295582

    kindrlindr
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    My first thought was, “are these the same kids walking around with the newest iPhones and designer hair products?” I hate to sound cynical, but I think our society has set up a generation that is used to taking advantage of anything offered regardless of TRUE need. I would be too proud to take it. I would get a second job if I couldn’t afford food…do side jobs, babysit….anything to be able to pay my own way.

  • #295585

    jusme
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    A couple years ago I rented out one of my bedrooms to a Sac City college student. She had an old beat up Toyota Camry handed down by her parents. She paid $500 in rent, paid for gas and insurance for her car. Worked 30 hours a week minimum wage from Winco. Got tuition assistance from a Pell Grant.

    I noticed that she never ate at home and I would regularly share my dinner with her in which she timidly accepted. After about a year of staying with me she finally told me that there were many times she did not eat as she simply did not have enough money to buy food.

    I showed her that she could buy rice, beans and flour to make her own tortillas, how to stretch hamburger meat, make meatless spaghetti, eat spaghetti squash etc. She decided to try to rent an apt. downtown and see if she can make it. I knew she would not not make it even though I sat down with her and showed her how to budget to make ends meet. She only lasted 3 months at her apartment, then she moved in with her parents. That didn’t work out so she moved to Oregon to live with her Grandma. She got a State job with Oregon and still stays with her Grandma.

    So I guess what I am trying to say is yes I have seen 1st hand a starving college student.

  • #295584

    SteveB6509
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    I wouldn’t necessarily assume that if a student has an iPhone that they have money. My daughter has a relatively recent iPhone (that I bought) and she is living on her own (student + working). I want her to have a good phone because it is a necessity of today’s life (especially for a woman – it’s a safety factor). She’s got a car on it’s last legs with 114,000 miles and although we all agreed she would have to buy her next car, I know I will be buying it. I know she is struggling and often stops in for a meal (and occasionally the extra $20 to pay for gas until payday).

  • #295581

    norules
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    Jusme, I commend your actions in trying to help a student with the realities of life. That is what a lot of people don’t understand about life. She made choices to put herself in that starving student situation though. Even after you sat down with her and laid out financial problems, she still made her choices. This is starving by your life situation and then there is starving by your choices. Eventually, you have to learn about the repercussions of your choices.

    It changes over the years on financial decisions. People complain that they don’t have enough to save for retirement and then they go on vacations to Hawaii. I was trying to help them start saving for retirement at that point. I quit trying… if the effort is not there, I cannot waste my time…

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