Over the course of the semester, my classmates and I have been studying hunger, and I, like many students, have been misinformed of the cruel reality of hunger. Here’s what a majority of us have thought: Hunger exists in developing countries, and, in the United States, only the homeless are hungry. Though that may be true, we’ve learned a new truth.
Common Misconceptions of Hunger
Here’s the other reality. Hunger goes way beyond being homeless or living in a different country. Other people in America are struggling, too, and we may not even know it. We’ve learned that college students are hungry. Not all students get help with tuition and other financial needs, so this leaves them unsure of where, or if, they will have a next meal. In other words, it leaves them struggling with “food insecurity.” Food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Why are College Students Hungry?
Many factors can contribute to food insecurity among college students, the most pressing, in my view, being tuition. The current price of tuition at the Westminster Campus is about $1,700 for a full-time resident student taking 12 credits. For a full-time, non-resident student taking 12 credits, tuition is about $6,500. For students who do not qualify for financial aid and are paying for their own school expenses, they may not have money left for food. And sometimes, even if they qualify, living expenses in our area are high and there are struggles to pay for all necessities. Some students have to choose between buying groceries and other essentials and paying their tuition or rent or car repair, leaving them food insecure for the month.
Not only is tuition an issue, many students just do not have access to food where they live. They live in a food desert. What is a food desert? A food desert is an area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. Essentially, if your easiest access to food is gas stations or fast food, you live in a food desert.
Did you know that Federal Heights, Colorado, is classified as a food desert? The U.S. Census Bureau says yes.
What is FRCC Doing About It?
Due to the increase of food insecurity among college students, the Westminster Campus took action and opened “The Pantry” in February. After a brief orientation, students are able to go in and shop for what they need. The Pantry is located inside Student Life.
The Larimer Campus also has a food bank called Food For Thought, which is located in a small building on the east side of the campus.
Hunger Banquet April 27
If you’d like to know more about the struggles students face, as well as hunger at Front Range Community College and on other college campuses, or maybe you just want to know more about how you can help, join April Lewandowski’s English 121 class for an informational and interactive Hunger Banquet from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, in the Rocky Mountain room (C-0770) on the Westminster Campus.