College can be expensive for some students. When the money starts getting low, it can be a struggle to find something to eat.
Going to college, and craving food, go hand in hand. What happens when it becomes a problem, when it turns into actual hunger?
In 2016 colleges and universities started addressing the problem of being “food insecure.”
“They started realizing that many their students were struggling, so a lot of colleges and universities started opening food pantries,” said Gina Thurman.
For many college students, food insecurity is just a few missed paychecks away.
The associate dean of students at Augusta University says she got involved after reading research about hunger on college campuses. In 2016 “The Open Paws Food Pantry” opened.
“We had a mother that came in who was a student with two young daughters and was struggling for food for the rest of the week,” said Thurman. “When we told her she could take what she wanted for the week, she cried. She was so relieved that she was going to be able to have food for her two young children.”
Studies show one out of three students at four-year universities say they have low food security. At AU, other students are stepping in to help them, and feed them.
“We have three different flavors boxes of oatmeal packets, and a student said I know that I’m not going to eat these can I leave them for someone else.”
Thurman says having items like soup, and other non-perishable items accessible on campuses will help many students who are stretching their dollars to make ends meet.
“We knew we were doing a good thing when we were not aware we would have a student who had not eaten in 24 hours.”
What does the future hold when it comes to food on campus? Thurman says she hopes healthier options are on the horizon.
“My vision is that we can get big enough where we can have a refrigerator, and take more fruits and vegetables or maybe yogurt,” explained Thurman. “Things that require refrigeration but have a little longer shelf life; that have a little more nutrition value than the typical ramen noodles.”
The Open Paws Food Pantry is open through the holidays. They are collecting donations year-round on campus, to keep college kids from going hungry.