New study finds hunger is prevalent among college students, offers solutions to help address hunger and help more students succeed.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office report, released Jan. 10, found that more than half – 57 percent – of at-risk students were not participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP, aka food stamps) in 2016.
Those most at risk for hunger were first-generation college students and single parents.
Of 31 studies on campus-food insecurity reviewed by the GAO, the share of college students struggling to feed themselves ranged from 9 percent to more than 50 percent,. Twenty-two of the studies estimated about one-third of college students face hunger.
A growing number of colleges are offering food pantries, but the GAO report concludes that a national response is needed to help more students receive federal food aid, including ensuring that more students know they can qualify for this assistance.
“We know that far too many New Jersey college students struggle with hunger, often facing the untenable choice of going without food or continuing their college education,’’ LaTourette said. “This GAO report will help inform and strengthen our efforts to fight campus hunger and assist more students to meet their basic needs while earning a degree.’’
LaTourette urged state Senators to act quickly on the Hunger-Free Campus Act (A- 4702/S-3239), which passed the state Assembly in December.
The measure would appropriate $1 million for a grant program to address hunger among students enrolled in New Jersey’s public colleges and universities. These funds would be used to help more college students enroll in SNAP and allow them to use their benefits to buy food at campus stores. It would also help colleges establish food pantries and develop a “Swipe Out Hunger” student meal credit sharing program or designate a certain amount of funds for free meal vouchers.
“This legislation is a strong first step toward combating campus hunger,’’ LaTourette said. “We urge our state Senators to move quickly to advance this legislation so we can begin implementing real changes to reduce hunger and help more young people succeed.’’