Did you know there is a recent report out that finds students are going hungry? The study conducted by Wisconsin Hope Lab entitled “Still Hungry and Homeless in College” released its report in April. It is the largest national survey of its kind and was aimed at analyzing “the basic needs security of university students.”
The report pulled from 43,000 students at 66 institutions in 20 states and the District of Colombia.
Its previous two surveys only focused on students at community colleges. This new survey attempted to tackle both 4-year students and community college students, with 20,000 of the students surveyed coming from 35 different 4-year colleges and universities. Here are some of the things that they found.
Students Can’t Afford Food
The study found that many students were in fact food insecure. They define food insecurity as “the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or the ability to acquire such foods in a socially acceptable manner. The most extreme form is often accompanied with physiological sensations of hunger.”
Of the students that they surveyed, they found that 36 percent of university students were already food insecure 30-days leading up to the survey. Among community college students, this number is even higher at 42 percent, although they point out that their study last year that focused on community college students had a higher number of 56percent.
Some of the most vulnerable students found to be food insecure were former foster youth. According to the report, more than 60 percent of the foster youth that completed the survey were food insecure. However, they weren’t the only segment of the surveyed students to be the most insecure.
Students that weren’t working or were actively seeking work were food insecure along with those that were working 40 hours or more a week. The report found that 34 to 38 percent of the students that were working 6 to 20 hours a week were food insecure, which by the survey’s standards is low food insecurity. When compared to those that are working 40 hours or more, 48 to 51 percent of those working 40 hours a week or more were food insecure.
As a result, the report found that working longer hours coupled with food insecurity led to lower academic performance, resulting in the grades of these individuals slipping below the C-Average threshold that they need to maintain in order to continue receiving financial aid.
What the Report Suggests as A Solution
The report states that “[those] closest to the problem are closest to the solution.” Students have the power to start solving this problem. The report offers three avenues: student-created programs, students supporting each other, and students educating and being their own advocates. As for universities, the report suggests that they should collect more data themselves to get a better idea of the problem and implement action by creating programs to help support students more effectively. And finally, policymakers can start being proactive as well by expanding public benefits or students, improving Title IV financial aid processes and procedures, as well as funding student’s living expensive by creating a school lunch program for food insecure students.