3rd world America: More college students using food banks

29 Feb

One of the best discussions of the types of support needed by some students to complete their education is a February 19, 2010 opinion piece at the Olympia Newswire by Sarah Reyneveld, Vice-President of the University of Washington (UW) Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS), and Jono Hanks,Director of the Office of Government Relations for the Associated Students of University Washington (ASUW) In Op Ed: Governor’s Proposed Budget Imperils State Need Grants, Could Push College Education Out of the Reach of Reach Reyneveld and Hanks write about many programs. The National Policy Center has an excellent policy brief, Policy Brief #19, about why it is taking so many young adults longer to transition to adulthood.


Between 1960 and 2004, the median age at first marriage in the U.S. had risen from about 20 to 26 for women, and from 23 to 27 for men. The gender age gap in first marriage has never been smaller.

Between 1969 and 2004, young women entered the labor force in increasing numbers and worked more hours. As a result, there was a dramatic decrease—from roughly 80% to less than 50%—in the percentage of women in their early 30s earning less than the federal poverty line for a family of four. The news is not so good for men. In 1969 only about 10% of men in their early 30s earned this little, but in 2004 nearly a quarter did.

Though more students are graduating from college, it is taking them longer to do so. Among high school graduates born in 1950, 15% had received bachelor’s degree by the age of 22; among those born in 1970, only 12% had. By the age of 28, however, 28% of those born in 1970 had graduated, compared to 25% of those born in 1950.

The high cost of housing and high rates of debt are often cited as reasons today’s young people are having trouble establishing independence. However, the debt to net-worth ratio for young adults remained at 0.57 in both 1963 and 2001, and inflation adjusted median monthly rents increased by only $15 between 1980 and 2000.

That young adults are taking longer to transition from parental dependence to economic self-sufficiency is not just an American phenomenon. The same trend has occurred in many other industrialized countries.


See, Evergreen State College’s students living below the poverty line http://www.evergreen.edu/institutionalresearch/pdf/enrollment/trends/poverty01-11.pdf

Lindsey Powers writes in the USA Today article, Campus food banks help students through tough times:

Oregon State is one of a growing number of colleges and universities nationwide that have a food pantry on campus for students and others struggling to get enough food and supplies.

The pantries offer food and supplies, from cereal to meats to produce to toiletries, as well as a feeling of camaraderie and dignity, according to pantry staff members and volunteers.

Tennessee State and Austin Peay State universities in Tennessee, the University of Arkansas, the University of Georgia and Utah Valley University are among the schools to establish food pantries in the past year.

Angela Oxford, director of the University of Arkansas’ Center for Community Engagement, says she estimates there currently are about 25 universities and colleges that have campus food pantries.

“We’ve been contacted by at least 10 different campuses in the last year” about how to start a food pantry, Oxford says.

Daniel Farcas, a doctoral student at West Virginia University, says he visits the university’s pantry about once a week, most often for diapers and occasionally for food. Farcas says he didn’t know about the pantry before he became a parent…

“There is no typical student who accesses the food pantry,” she says.

Feeding America, a hunger-relief organization and national network of food banks, has seen an increase of people across many demographic categories who lack consistent access to an adequate amount of healthy food, according to Ross Fraser, the organization’s director of media relations….

Furthermore, full-time students are usually not eligible to receive food stamps under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to Brady Koch, director of SNAP outreach at Feeding America.

According to the most recent data, Feeding America served 37 million people in 2009, up from 25 million in 2005, through its emergency food centers, which include soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters, says Fraser, citing the organization’s “Hunger in America” studies.

Some campus pantries, such as those at West Virginia University and Michigan State University, have purchased items from food banks that are Feeding America members, according to pantry staff members.

Julia Lyon, a student volunteer and chairwoman of the University of Arkansas’ pantry, says that while the number of students struggling with hunger is “something that’s kind of under the radar,” it’s clearly a problem on campus. Since it opened in February 2011, the pantry has met more than 800 requests for food and supplies from students and staff members, Lyon says.

At Michigan State, the food pantry has seen the effects of the tough economic times, says Nate Smith-Tyge, a doctoral student and the pantry’s director.

The pantry, established in 1993, saw a spike in users in the 2005-06 academic year, and the number remains relatively high, he says, with about 200 to 300 people served every other Wednesday.

Both on- and off-campus donations help fill the shelves in addition to items purchased or otherwise collected, according to pantry volunteers and staff members….

Many of the pantries emphasize discretion and aim to make what could be an embarrassing and difficult experience as comfortable as possible. Having students serving other students, Lyon says, helps make the pantry less intimidating.

“We’re overcoming the element of embarrassment more than logistics,” Lyon says.


Daniel de Vise has a great article in the Washington Post, 25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College which reports online information from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. As the cost of college continues to rise, more and more college students will be heading for their local food bank.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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