College dining is the epitome of cheap. Countless students practically sell their souls and future credit scores in the name of free pizza. After all, there is no better deal than “free ninety-nine.”
Students buy food they can afford, and more often than not, it is of lower nutritional value. Some students may even opt out of buying groceries regularly and subsist on cheap junk food because they cannot afford otherwise.
Once tuition, books, rent, gas and other financial burdens have been paid for, students often find they have little to no money left for groceries. In the instance a student does have enough money for groceries, he or she may not have time to prepare quality, nutrient-packed meals.
Lack of time and money for proper meals has led to a growing concern spreading across campuses in the nation. Professors, parents and hunger-fighters are worried about the increase of food insecurity on our country’s campuses.
Food insecurity is defined as “the state in which consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”
Nationally, food insecurity rates have been dropping since 2010, but this has not been the case on many college campuses.
Texas has a 17 percent household food insecurity rate—significantly higher than the national average. In Hays County, the food insecurity rate is 14.7 percent with the average cost of a meal around $2.67.
Collegiate Texans are going hungry without even realizing it.
In terms of food insecurity, hunger is defined as a “state in which a person is unable to provide enough nutrition for him or herself, usually due to economic or geographic circumstances.” If you have skipped meals or eaten less in the past year due to economic constraints you are most likely dealing with food insecurity.
With the influx of non-traditional students and increased enrollment rates among lower-income individuals arrives a food crisis. A student should not have to choose between textbooks and dinner. Without the resources needed for a quality meal, students may witness suffering grades and low performance on exams, making money spent on tuition and books a waste.
Due to social stigmas about food stamps and other forms of government aid, many students shy away from help. Those who are willing to receive help may find they do not qualify.
1.3 million, or 31 percent, of Texans are in need of food but may be ineligible for assistance based on their income. Just as financial aid may not help an extensive amount of students because of their parent’s economic status, the same can be said for government assistance.
In 2010, Texas let more than “6 billion dollars of private and state funds designated for hunger related programs” go to waste. What could have been a possible aid to the solution went completely unused.
To help our hungry neighbors, we need solutions. Appropriate use of designated funds, campus food banks and meal voucher programs similar to those found at the George Mason University can help end food insecurity on campus.
No student should worry about when his or her next meal is going to be. College is stressful enough as it is. It will take the combined efforts of concerned Bobcats to battle food insecurity at Texas State.
Together, it will be a piece of cake.
– Mikala Everett is a mass communications junior