When the words ‘food bank’ are used, the first thing that comes to mind is hungry families or someone who lost their job and needs temporary assistance. What many people don’t realize is that an overwhelming number of college students are also in need of food.
College students aren’t the type to naturally reach out for help. This is partly because of the stereotype of the “struggling student” – you know, the one that stays alive by eating ONLY ramen noodles and pizza. The truth is that some students can’t even afford those items. Many can only afford to eat one meal a day.
Feeding America found that of the households they serve, roughly 1 in 4 with children ALSO contain at least one college student. This means that one or more members of these struggling families are seeking an education so they can work towards a better future. Some of these students are parents. As nontraditional students, parents face a unique set of challenges that other students do not – they have to commute to school and do not have access to a university meal plan. If they eat ramen noodles or pizza or have to skip a meal, so do their family members. Unfortunately, low-cost favorites like mac and cheese contain processed ingredients (high in sodium and sugar) that can cause long-lasting health problems. Do struggling/low-income college students deserve to risk nutrition-based illnesses such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes just so they can get ahead in life?
Hays County Food Bank knows many college-aged students who do not believe they should have to take the risk. Ashley Newth, a Texas State student who attends food distributions, admits that it can be a struggle to ask for help. When asked if she sees hunger on campus, she said, “I don’t really see it. But just because I don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I feel like a lot of students are probably ashamed to come and ask for help, you know? And that’s why you probably don’t see a lot of Texas State students here.” She also admitted that hunger on college campuses can be overshadowed by the university lifestyle. She expressed that colleges need to educate students that it is okay to ask for help and supply them with the resources to find it.
Hays County Food Bank is passionate about assisting all populations in need. That is why we began a partnership with United Campus Ministry on the Texas State University campus in October 2016. Each week, we distribute easy-to-carry bags of produce and non-perishable food items to students. We keep the challenges that students face in mind, which has led us to keep the registration process quick and easy.
Hunger does not discriminate against age, race, or education level. It does not care if you get straight A’s or if you fail an exam. Hunger can affect anyone. What will you do to take a stand?