Here's Why Cash-Strapped Students Are Choosing Classes Over Meals
By Taylor Durham
- 45% of college students reported being food insecure
- There are more than 700 campus food pantries, up from 15 in 2012
Imagine as a student that you needed to apply for a loan to eat. It’s insane, right? Food insecurity is a growing problem that is plaguing college campuses across the country. The constant battle of choosing whether to pay for classes, housing, or food has raised the alarm across college campuses. Minority students are at risk of dropping out in droves, even though universities have tried to provide solutions, one has to ask why is it even happening in the first place?
Why This Matters: The Pell Grant, meant to provide financial assistance to Black students has been virtually exhausted. In the past, the Grant gave enough money to cover additional expenses, such as books and meals, a max of $6,095 annually. In leveling the academic field the fund provides up to $4 billion, but the grant has not accounted for the rise in tuition. Less than 40% of African-American students finish a four-year degree within six years.
Food insecurity is real and its adding more problems to a demographic that’s roughly $1.5 trillion in debt. While the focus has been on the rise of tuition in the last decade, the cost of room and board has risen steadily as well, greatly impacting students from low-income households.
The dream of higher education feels distant when you’re trying to scrape funds together for food. However, more and more students from low-income households are in college. Universities have even considered “food scholarships”, a more palatable way of announcing partnerships with local food banks. Again, with all the money, tools and resources available to higher education facilities, students being left to fend for food, a basic necessity, is troubling and embarrassing. Especially in a country that considers itself a first-world nation.
Situational Awareness: The fact is the student population is growing, college prices are rising, and few solutions are being offered to address food or housing insecurity. Increasing bipartisanship in Congress, coupled with the current administration’s insistence on removing millions from food stamp eligibility can only cause further harm. A revamp of social safety nets coupled with controlling higher education costs can possibly offer relief to students.
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