College students have grown used to being the butt of many jokes and have learned to laugh along. Many of the self-deprecating jokes are just made to lighten the mood of the environment we are in.
Yet with the many stereotypes that surround students, there has been one since the beginning of time: college students are broke.
The problem with this stereotype is that it speaks the truth. College students are broke and constantly battling with money. The joke about students being broke has become so normalized that the facts are quietly being overlooked. And the harsh reality is students are forced to choose between their financial obligations and eating.
The price of a tuition increases once students add the price of books, rent and the other miscellaneous bills that never seem to slow down. It is not simple to decide where you put your money when each need is just as important as the next.
With these responsibilities pressing down, many students are facing food insecurity. The United States Department of Agriculture defines very low food security as “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”
Students face very limited and unreliable resources. The institutions that students are attending are not giving the time of day to the issue. While these institutions have not shed light on the situation as much as they should, it has proven difficult to raise awareness. Without sufficient amounts of resources, students will never be able to meet their nutritional needs and stay afloat with their bills.
Given the seriousness of this issue, there is still limited conversation around the topic, and there will never be progress without discussion.
According to a survey by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, out of 3,765 students, 48 percent reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days. Food insecurity was higher among students of color with 57 percent of black students reporting food insecurity compared to 40 percent of white students.
Without proper nutrition, how will students be able to succeed at their best? It is not shocking to realize that these conditions will affect students’ participation and success in their studies, social life and overall health. During a time that is already stressful, we should be seeing steps being made to adjust and amplify the resources provided to students.
The first thing that needs to be done in this lengthy process is more education. By taking the time to understand the depths of the issue presented, it will be easier to make the necessary strides toward improvement.
People must also voice their concerns loud enough for these institutions to hear. When institutions start to genuinely care about students’ needs in terms of food security, they could provide multiple resources to those in need.
When these resources are provided, all students can begin to flourish in more ways than one, and understanding and preventing food insecurity will be the first step toward improving the quality of life among students.