Rising cost of college prompts schools to open food pantries for hungry students

Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Reporter

Total Shares
This is the CRO SBAR

  • "One problem with full time college students is most of the time they don’t qualify for food stamps and aren’t getting help from the government.”
  • Organizer claimed the university pantry is for students suffering from chronic hunger, not those who merely forgot to bring lunch.
  • As the overall cost of higher education continues to skyrocket, universities are beginning to address a growing need among students—a need for nourishment.

    Between rising costs for room and board, textbooks and tuition, many students are left unable to afford food, prompting eight schools in North Carolina to open campus food pantries in the last 18 months, with talks of more underway. The newest pantry, at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), saw an estimated 50 students use its services in the first week with no advertisement.

    "One problem with full time college students is most of the time they don’t qualify for food stamps and aren’t getting help from the government.”   

    Like many other collegiate pantries, NCCU’s food bank is entirely donation-based, providing nonperishable food items and toiletries to students who show a student ID.

    The pantry also offers resources to cash-strapped students such as breast feeding classes and information on how to make creative meals on a budget.

    Jason O’Briant, a dietetics professor who helped organize the pantry, said it is a resource for students suffering from chronic hunger, not those who merely forgot to bring lunch.

    “Back when I was a student, I didn’t have issues of food security, but I ate cheap, I ate like a college student,” O’Briant told Campus Reform. “[The food pantry] has to discern the difference between the poor college student who is eating cheaply or someone who can’t have access to food.”

    Tuition alone has risen 14 percent over the past five years at four-year private colleges and 27 percent at four-year public universities. But besides the rising cost of education and food, students have many other monetary obligations ranging from healthcare to childcare to rent to car payments. Part time jobs simply are no longer cutting it.

    NCCU’s pantry is run with help from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, a nonprofit organization serving 34 North Carolina counties and food pantries, including Durham Technical Community College and Wake Forest.

    “A large majority of students are embarrassed or do not know where to go for food assistance,” Christy Simmons, manager of public relations for the nonprofit, told Campus Reform. “Tuition has increased, which puts a strain on finances and food often takes a backseat to bills.”

    NCCU isn’t unique—collegiate pantries seem to be a growing trend in North Carolina and nationwide.

    The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is responsible for opening three collegiate food pantries in the past year with two more colleges applying for partnership and two others inquiring about a partnership.

    The College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA), an organization that supports campus food banks, serves almost 50 higher education schools from community colleges to major universities.

    Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) in Kochville Township, Mich., is one university that has recently opened a food pantry with help from CUFBA. According to an email obtained by Campus Reform, the Cardinal Food Pantry was started to "address this need knowing a hungry student has a harder time being academically successful.”

    “SVSU is involved with helping the hungry on a variety of fronts,” J.J. Boehm, director of media and community relations for the university, told Campus Reform.

    And Beohm is right. The student pantry also tackles other needs—such as clothing—by organizing a “Cardinal Closet” for students in need.

    Nate Smith-Tyge, director of Michigan State University’s food pantry and co-founder of CUFBA, estimates that there are a total of 120 food pantries on college campuses, with up to 35 more in the planning stages.

    “It’s a circular task,” Smith-Tyge told Campus Reform. “A lot of people now have to work and go to school so if we can lessen their financial burden so they will have to work fewer hours, graduation, retention and completion rates will increase. Making sure people are food-secure helps academically.”

    Smith-Tyge blames the comprehensive economic climate, growth of nontraditional college students with unique costs, overall cost of college attendance and rise in tuition for the growing need for food pantries.

    Despite the growing trend of food pantries on college campuses, hard data of just how many colleges and students utilize food pantries across the country simply doesn’t exist. With colleges partnering with a number of organizations such as CUFBA, state food banks or community donations, there isn’t a concrete number showing how many college students are truly food insecure.

    Feeding America, a nonprofit network of food banks across America feeding more than 37 million people, will release its new batch of research statistics, Hunger in America 2014 in the summer. According to Ross Fraser, director of media relations for Feeding America, this will be the first time the quadrennial report will identify the number of college students the organization serves.

    It won’t be a completely comprehensive number, as Feeding America works strictly with 501(c)(3) organizations, but it’s a step in that direction. Fraser told Campus Reform that it’s “frustrating” how often he gets asked how many college students Feeding America—and consequently other food banks—serve when there just isn’t data available.

    “Food insecurity is going up and up and up,” he said. “It used to be a problem of just those who were poor and now it’s with people who were middle class. One problem with full time college students is most of the time they don’t qualify for food stamps and aren’t getting help from the government.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @katie0509



    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Reporter

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Kaitlyn was a reporter at Red Alert Politics and covered business and restaurants for the Alexandria Times.  

    More By Kaitlyn Schallhorn


    LATEST TWEETS

    GOPRolledOver!Why?
    @dawnzoc - 1 hour ago

    @mindlessmumble @mike4libertyCA @campusreform Uh, my point is the elitist feminist wearing them over her shoes to mock Joni #clueless

    Notung
    @SIN_Notung - 1 hour ago

    Clemson professors demand criminal prosecution of social media posts http://t.co/MqrgZ1Ei2n via @campusreform

    Connect The Dots
    @mindlessmumble - 2 hours ago

    @dawnzoc @mike4libertyCA @campusreform She said in her speech that all the other kids also did it...So what's your point?

    GOPRolledOver!Why?
    @dawnzoc - 3 hours ago

    @mike4libertyCA @campusreform What an elitist idiot she is,Everyone I have spoke to also wore plastic bags over their socks under shoes so..

    Mike
    @mike4libertyCA - 3 hours ago

    Students encouraged to apply for porn-funded scholarship http://t.co/YMTOMOxENA via @campusreform

    Mike
    @mike4libertyCA - 3 hours ago

    CRO's Lauren Clark joins Fox & Friends to talk about Arizona State's 'problem with whiteness' class http://t.co/jTf1Js1rGv via @campusreform

    Mike
    @mike4libertyCA - 3 hours ago

    VIDEO: Feminist activist wears plastic bags over shoes to mock female Senator Joni Ernst http://t.co/R40P3r95aG via @campusreform

    Mike
    @mike4libertyCA - 3 hours ago

    UC Berkeley students protest Domino's Pizza for thanking cows for milk http://t.co/6F6ynQjiZb via @campusreform

    Mike
    @mike4libertyCA - 3 hours ago

    CUNY to teachers: Stop calling students ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ http://t.co/0UeyAYJ0UF via @campusreform Male/female distinctions being torn down

    Mike
    @mike4libertyCA - 3 hours ago

    Clemson professors demand criminal prosecution of social media posts http://t.co/SE4QX6diQu via @campusreform

    Latest 30 Articles