Has there ever been a time when you ran out of meals in the middle of the week? Or you had to pick either buying a textbook or buying this week’s groceries? These are signs of food insecurity and research shows that 48 percent of college students across the country experience the same kind of struggle—college students are nearly four times more likely to experience food insecurity than the rest of the population.
Food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable or nutritious food. Many students who suffer from food insecurity have jobs, are on meal plans and have financial assistance. We are just finding out more about how college students suffer from food insecurity, though historically this problem has not been heavily researched.
Students have hectic lives which complicate food insecurity. Universities like West Chester University, often offer a wide range of foods throughout campus from fast food to salad bars, but students still struggle with choosing and accessing nutritious foods to stay healthy.
Students with busy schedules often choose foods that are convenient but may also face other difficulties if they are food insecure. This might mean choosing food to eat while on-the-go, or while in class—and if a student is food insecure, they may be forced to choose whether to buy coffee or a meal for the day. There are healthy meals available on campus, but if students are rushing between classes with little time to wait in line, and they are lacking resources to purchase healthier options, they may be eating poorly.
This is concerning because we know nutrition is important to overall health and academic performance.
So how do we address the issue of hunger and food insecurity on our cam- pus and what can you do if you experience food insecurity? Since March, volunteers at WCU have been holding the Presidential Inauguration Campus Food Drive to address campus hunger.
Nutrition students in Community Nutrition classes have also been working on an educational campaign and survey to in- crease awareness about food insecurity on campus.
West Chester University has a campus food pantry to help students who are struggling and the WCU Food & Resource Pantry website has contact information for help and tips for surviving on a budget. You can also volunteer to help through the website.
Liz Whelan is a third-year student majoring in nutrition. She can be reached at EW821192@wcupa.edu.