Food insecurity impacts students nationwide

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 at 12:54 PM
Food insecurity impacts students nationwide by Shayma Musa
Photo: Pexels

It’s a common refrain: you want college kids to attend an event? Just advertise the food. The hungry college student is almost a cultural caricature. Jokes are rampant on the internet about students living off of weird food combinations, ramen, bowls of cereal for every meal, dollar store snacks—nothing particularly healthy. But how much of those jokes are grounded in reality? 

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), 61 percent of students attending four-year colleges experience food insecurity. The AACU defines food insecurity as being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. The Still Hungry and Homeless in College survey conducted by The Hope Center for College Community and Justice broadens this definition, categorizing students who have to skip a meal or cut the portion size of their meals regularly as food insecure.  

But why does this matter for students?

An article published in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition followed college students in the state of Georgia over the course of two years in order to study the impact of food insecurity on the academic health of a college student. They found that food insecurity was directly linked to poor psychosocial health, which in turn was associated with lower overall GPA.  

With the cost of tuition, housing and other school-related costs going up, students are increasingly being forced to choose between working towards an education that is supposed to help them advance or having enough food to live on. In fact, food insecurity has been linked to a myriad of other issues impacting college students including housing insecurity and homelessness. 

These statistics hit close to home; nearby Slippery Rock University found in 2018 that 40 percent of their student body confessed to either not knowing when they will have access to food or are aware of fellow students who are insecure about accessing food. This prompted the university to establish an on-campus food pantry for students to use when they don’t have access to food.  

The Allentown Morning Call reported in 2018 that more than half of all Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Schools (PASSHE) have opened food pantries on their campuses to help combat this rising number of students suffering from food insecurity.  

Edinboro University began a program through the Ghering Health Center in 2016, where students who are food insecure can schedule an appointment with the health center and together, with a registered nurse, fill a free bag with nutritiously balanced food options. These bags take the students’ allergies and dietary restrictions into account.  

Are you a student suffering from food insecurity here at Edinboro? Here are a few on-campus resources that you can use:  

Ghering Health Center: 

As mentioned above, the Ghering Health Center provides food bags to Edinboro University students struggling with food insecurity. Students must schedule an appointment at the health center first, and after speaking with a registered nurse, they will receive food free of charge. They must schedule an appointment each time they need another bag. The health center also provides basic toiletries such as pads, tampons, toothbrushes, soaps, lotions, shampoo, toothpaste and hair products. They also provide medications like Tylenol. 

 Edinboro Food Pantry: 

The Edinboro Food Pantry serves the entire community of Edinboro and is located on the ground floor of Lawrence Towers. It is open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

 Social Work Student Lounge: 

Located on the ground floor of Hendricks Hall, the Social Work Student Lounge is home to a mini-food pantry operated and stocked by the Social Work Department. Here, students can grab quick snacks to eat throughout the day, as well as canned and dry foods to prepare at home. Out of the three options, this is the easiest to access, with bags provided and no questions asked. The lounge is open to students 24/7. 

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