A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found “food insecurity” for college students has become a troubling national issue. The authors reviewed 31 published studies and concluded that more than a third of college students were not getting enough to eat.
The report described how campus demographics have changed over the last decade, putting traditional students—those who start college right out of high school and remain financially dependent on their parents—in the minority. Most of today’s college students instead juggle real-world responsibilities like raising families, working odd hours, and commuting. The GAO contends those competing obligations can leave low-income and first-generation students vulnerable to hunger.
While the report urged students to take advantage of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, the authors also noted numerous ways colleges were shouldering the burden. More than 650 schools run food pantries on campus.
Churches also have joined the charge, offering free meals for college students. Some, like Oaklawn Baptist Church in Crossville, Tenn., have even gone so far as to bring the meals to campus. The church coordinates with Baptist Collegiate Ministry to serve lunches to students at nearby Roane State Community College.
“We saw such a need here,” Oaklawn Pastor David Mahan said. “Some kids are here all day.” —L.E.