Students are starving, what can governments do?


How do students manage to make ends meet? By starving themselves to save money for books and rent. But the government could help.

Photo: Bigstock

In a new report, the US government found out that millions of students, over a third of its college students, are starving; and there are many things they could do to help them.

But this is not news. Last year, the Hope Center released a survey of 43,000 students and found out that 36% of the participants felt food insecure, 36% felt anxious about their housing situation, and 9% were homeless. These numbers increase in the case of community college students, where 42% struggle with food insecurity, 51%, about rent, and 14% were homeless.

This goes beyond the typical remarks about the bad eating habits on campus; students are ravenous, and it affects their education. How can a student concentrate in class when they haven’t eaten anything that day?

The government’s report focuses on how they can help solve this problem. A solution is the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, that provides food aid to low-income Americans.

Even though food assistance may help, many students do not know they are eligible for the program because of unclear guidelines. According to the report, 2 million students didn’t receive the benefits due to not knowing they were eligible.

Another route, explained by the Hope Center, is extending the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) to Community Colleges. If the government recognizes the importance of lunch and makes it accessible to public k-12 schools, why not do the same for higher education institutions?

With university costs that increased nearly eight times faster than wages, plus buying books and housing; attending and finishing college has become a bigger challenge than ever before, especially for low-income and first-generation students.

That the government recognizes the problem is only the first step. It's time to wait and see what they do with that information and what decision they make to support more than a third of their university students who are experiencing food insecurity.