Food insecurity now affects almost one-third of US college students: report

Food insecurity now affects almost one-third of US college students: report
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U.S. consumers were complaining about the high cost of groceries long before the COVID-19 pandemic and the inflation that came with it, especially when it came to healthier foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables that help people live longer, activists argued, shouldn't be cost-prohibitive.

But the inflation of 2021 and 2022 made groceries even more expensive — so expensive that, according to The Guardian's Jessica Fu, almost one-third of U.S.-based college students are now facing food insecurity.

That figure comes from the Hope Center at Temple University in Philadelphia. The Center surveyed more than 195,000 college students in the United States and found that almost one-third of them had experienced food insecurity. Among students at two-year colleges, according to Hope, the number was as high as 40 percent.

READ MORE: Big food raking in massive profits from price hikes while Americans go hungry

Food pantries, Fu reports, have become an "increasingly popular resource" among college students. A May 2022 report by the Trellis Company found that the number of campus food pantries in the U.S. has grown to around 800.

One of the students using a food pantry is Anthony Meng, a senior at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

"I don't think I can afford groceries," Meng told The Guardian. "Which is difficult to say at times, but it's the reality of the situation."

Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson began tackling food insecurity in the early 1960s with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While technology has undoubtedly changed since then, the idea remains the same: relief from food insecurity and hunger.

READ MORE: 'Pro-life but not pro-kids-deserve-food': Minnesota Republican excoriated for denying that hunger exists

Wu notes, however, that "despite high rates of hunger," U.S. students "face an uphill battle when trying to access" SNAP benefits."Since the 1980s," according to Wu, "people who attend school on a more than part-time basis have been largely excluded from SNAP, out of concern that students from well-to-do backgrounds would draw public resources instead of assistance from their families. So, instead of qualifying for SNAP based on asset and income requirements — as the majority of Americans do — college students also need to work at least 20 hours a week, a requirement that anti-hunger advocates say is onerous and unreasonable for someone who is attending classes and doing school work every day."

READ MORE: How it feels to be hungry and why food should be a basic right

The Guardian's report is available in its entirety at this link.

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