More Than Half Of U.S. College Students Hungry, Universities Respond By Putting Up Food PantriesBy Julio Cachila, UniversityHerald Reporter
With the rising cost of college education, many college students are faced with various financial problems including not just tuition, but also education-related expenses such as books and other materials. Surprisingly enough, one of the problems they face, various reports say, is hunger.
The cost of college education has currently risen higher than the average amount of income that a family has, CNN reported. Over the past five years, the cost of studying at a public college rose 10 percent, while costs for private colleges rose by 12 percent. The median family salary, on the other hand, rose by only 7 percent.
Now, a large number of students have started voicing out their hunger problems. The National Student Campaign Against Hunger & Homelessness, in a report in October, said that nearly half of almost 4,000 students surveyed admitted to facing problems with food insecurity, with 22 percent of them actually considered as hungry.
The nearly 4,000 students surveyed came from various community and state colleges from 12 different states, which simply means that the hunger problem isn't found in just one school.
What's even more surprising is the fact that these students aren't necessarily broke. Of the almost 4,000 respondents, 56 percent were employed, with nearly 40 percent of them working 20 hours per week. More than half of them were recipients of a federal grant, while nearly 20 percent were recipients of a private scholarship.
To help combat the problem, various colleges are now opening up food pantries that make basic commodities such as cereals, bread, milk, and even shampoo and soap, available to students.
One such school that opened its own pantry is Montclair State University, CNN reported. The university currently has around 21,000 students, the majority of which don't have a meal plan. The university's financial aid office verifies if a student is eligible for the supplies.
Is the pantry actually helpful? People from both the student populace and the administration think so.
"Even if you don't hear about hunger being a problem, there's probably a population on campus in need," Megan Breitenbach, a student who volunteers at Montclair State's pantry, said.
In fact, in one certain Thursday this month, the pantry saw 33 students line up to acquire some supplies, such as bread, milk and cereal.
"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.