Posts Tagged ‘food affordability’

How “college hunger” or food insecurity shows that universities are failing their students

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

The New York Times wrote a piece titled: “Tuition or Dinner?” in 2019, which revealed that nearly 50 percent of university students surveyed suffered from food insecurity in the past 30 days. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for a healthy, active life. Affordability is positioned at the center of every student’s life. I want to start by saying I do understand that being able to go to college is a privilege that unfortunately, due to the astronomical cost it takes to even pursue post-secondary education in the U.S., many do not have. 

Yet, this does not change the fact that college has practically become a requirement in most job markets. So, often enough, many teenagers are put in a position in which they not only have to shoulder debt but now have to factor food in an already stressful and drastic period of change.

There is also the fact that 18-year-old freshmen in their dorm room aren’t the main college demographic: according to a 2014 study done by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, one in every four college student has a child. As students, we are fed a certain narrative, to the point of nearly romanticizing this kind of “down on your luck,” charming-mess attitude when it comes to living. We are constantly told that thrift and affordability are normal parts of our twenties; we joke about the ramen we have stockpiled under our bed, the pizza we pick up in between classes, the “life hacks” we can use to skip out on meals. 

But when we pass off “thrift” as a normal part of student life, we add “hunger” to the culture of stress, anxiety, and depression that distort college education. 

How "college hunger" shows that universities are failing their students
Feeding America estimates that 1 in every 9 Americans were food insecure in 2018, equating to over 37 million Americans, including more than 11 million children. Image from Berea College “Hunger Hurts” Food Drive.

Many schools have created short term solutions. While this list is by no means comprehensive, here are some organizations you can go to, as well as some general resources if you are looking for free or discounted meals. 

  • I used Share Meals during my freshman year to donate my remaining meal swipes. Share Meals is an app that connects university students to free food at events, students with unused meal swipes, and other resources to help mitigate food insecurity.
  • Schools within the city like The New School, George Washington University, and City University of New York work with food pantries to have designated locations for students to get free food.
  • Often, colleges have Facebook Pages connecting students with events for free food. Here is my university’s.
  • Look for coupon booklets at your local university! Campus Clipper circulates in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. 

However, this does not change the fact that these are band-aid solutions for a widespread problem. When we excuse hunger and mental illness as a normal part of college life, we allow the institutions that exacerbate food insecurity not only in their students but in the community, to continue scott-free. 

Why are meal plans so expensive? Why are the attempts at building university-wide meal programs so slow-moving? Why are students the ones who have to start organizations like Share Meals and Swipe Out Hunger to bail out the failings of the college education system to provide for its students? 

Making food insecurity and college “hunger” a “normal” part of college positions the student as the failure, the incompetent, when they go hungry. Food insecurity is a failing of the American college system, and especially given these times, it is important to start implementing long term solutions. 

Campus Clipper helps connect students with discounts near them. For example, Two Boots Pizza is Buy one Get one Free with coupon and student ID.

Two Boots Campus Clipper Coupon Booklet
Click here to download the coupon!

By: Jessica Xing

Jessica is a senior at New York University majoring in English Literature. She has bylines in Vox, EGMNOW, and Electric Literature, and in her free time, she loves watching bad T.V. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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