Hunger strikes hard

For the most part, the college experience is positive.

Kids spend 18 years dreaming of the day they get their high school diplomas, and then after graduation, basking, reflecting and anticipating for two months until the day they kiss their parents goodbye – in some cases until Thanksgiving – and go off to start their four-year odyssey. At college, they find out what life is like away from home, and for many, this independence is a beautiful thing and allows them to find themselves. 

Although college life has plenty of positives, it’s an experience that requires sacrifice. 

One of the greatest sacrifices college students have to make is departing from home cooked meals. For some students, relying on cafeteria food to keep their bodies going is merely a nuisance. For others, it’s something more than that. 

The New York Times published an article tackling the topic of food insecurity. Food insecurity applies to students whose access to food is uncertain. An excerpt from the Times piece gives us an idea of how large of an issue food insecurity is at American colleges and universities. 

“A survey released this week by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice indicated that 45% of student respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. In New York, the nonprofit found that among City University of New York (CUNY) students, 48% had been food insecure in the past 30 days.”

College students often make light of their eating situation. The words “Ramen Noodles” are as closely associated with college life as the “final exam.” Some students are unbothered by jokes about their microwave feasts or their school’s dining hall to break the ice in an awkward situation or just to have something to talk about with friends. For others, such as Kassandra Montes, who went to Lahmen College, it’s something more serious than that. The article told Montes’ story.

“Living in a Harlem homeless shelter as she attends classes, Ms. Montes also works two part-time jobs and budgets only $15 per week for food. She uses the campus food pantry to get most of her groceries and usually skips breakfast to make sure that her 4-year-old son is eating regularly.”

All college students are stuck in the middle when it comes to food. Either we eat at school cafeterias, where the food is often not what we want, or we go out to eat and spend money that we do not have a lot of. It’s a hard spot to be in, and for some, it has a greater impact than for others. Although we make light of these issues, we must do so while keeping in mind that food insecurity is very serious and must be solved. Of all the issues relating to colleges and universities that are thought to be the most prevalent, it seems that food insecurity is low on the list. That has to change.