The San Diego Food Bank & North County Food Bank’s New College Hunger-relief Program
The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and our North County Food Bank chapter have established our College Hunger-relief Program in partnership with universities and colleges throughout San Diego County. The goal is to identify best practices of college food pantries, enhance existing college food pantries and campus-based hunger-relief programs, help colleges that would like to establish a food pantry program on campus, and to bring resources to all colleges and universities in San Diego County with food pantries and hunger-relief programs for low-income college students.
The Problem of Hunger Among Low-income College Students
Attending college should be a time of academic enrichment, personal growth, and career preparation. But for college students from impoverished backgrounds, attending college can be an exercise in basic survival. This is because students from low-income backgrounds suffer financial hardship and many face a daily struggle with “food insecurity” which is the inability to access adequate food.
Consistent with prior studies, 48% of college student respondents to a recent survey reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, including 22% with very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry*. Of these food insecure students, 32% believed that hunger or housing problems had an impact on their education. These students reported a range of consequences:
- 53% reported missing a class.
- 25% reported dropping a class.
- 88% reported that they did not perform as well academically due to these issues.
The Majority of Food Insecure Students Are Employed
The survey also found that food insecurity is a problem even for students who are employed, participate in a campus meal plan, or seek other financial or material help.
- 56% of food insecure students reported having a paying job. Of those employed students, 38% worked 20 hours or more per week.
- Being enrolled in a meal plan with a campus dining hall does not eliminate the threat of food insecurity. Among the respondents from four-year colleges, 43% of meal plan enrollees still experienced food insecurity.
- 3 in 4 food insecure students received some form of financial aid. More than half (52%) received Pell Grants, and 37% took out student loans.
Food Insecure Students Are More Likely to Drop Out of College
Another recent report found that food insecure students are more likely to indicate their intention to drop out of college. Food insecure students are significantly less likely to feel confident in their academic abilities, to perceive college as being worthwhile, to feel a sense of control in academic matters, and to be focused in school**.
Providing Hunger-relief Programs for Low-income College Students
Hungry students struggle to concentrate in class and suffer academically. Since a person with a college degree or vocational certificate is less likely to slip into poverty, providing food assistance to low-income students while they are in school can help prevent students from impoverished backgrounds from dropping out of college and falling into the cycle of poverty. That is why community leaders, local colleges, and universities are partnering with the San Diego Food Bank and our North County Food Bank chapter to create safety net programs for low-income students.
Our College Hunger-relief Program Is Providing Resources & Expertise for Colleges Throughout San Diego County
Through the program, the San Diego Food Bank and our North County Food Bank chapter will provide food and support services to San Diego County colleges and universities that have established, or are planning to establish student food pantries and ancillary hunger-relief programs on their respective campuses. As part of our commitment to fight hunger on college campuses in San Diego County, our College Hunger-relief Program will:
- Provide a consistent supply of food, including protein-rich foods and fresh produce, to colleges and universities that have established student food pantries on their campuses.
- Provide expertise and support services through our Food Bank University Program to colleges wishing to establish a food pantry and/or a hunger-relief program on campus.
- Provide best practices for college hunger-relief programs and leading college-related, hunger-relief research for college administrators, officials and student government leaders.
- Facilitate a schedule of convening sessions at the Food Bank’s Miramar facility for all San Diego County colleges that are participating in our College Hunger-relief Program and for those that wish to participate in the program.
- Assist in capacity-building programs for colleges with food pantries and/or hunger-relief programs that are a member of the Food Bank’s College Hunger-relief Program, such as the provision of food pantry assets, including but not limited to: refrigeration units, nutrition education resources, shelving, pallet jacks, hand trucks, and food delivery services.
- Provide support and assistance from Food Bank program staff who can help problem solve, consult on capacity building, share best practices, connect additional resources to campuses, and provide connections to community leaders that have successfully implemented college-based hunger-relief services.
- Share the latest technology available to help track clients and collect information that will enable pantries to address the root causes of hunger.
- Promote client dignity and share easy and affordable ways to reduce food waste by encouraging college hunger-relief programs to move to a client choice model.
- Encourage participation in the Food Bank’s Fresh Rescue Program where college hunger-relief programs can access additional food through a variety of local food retailers.
The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank and our North County Food Bank chapter are committed to fighting hunger on college campuses and removing barriers to academic achievement among low-income college students in San Diego County.
For more information about our College Hunger-relief Program, contact Shelly Parks at Sparks@SanDiegoFoodBank.org or 858-863-5132
For information about funding our College Hunger-relief Program, contact Liz Sheahan at LSheahan@SanDiegoFoodBank.org or 858-863-5129
*Dubick, J., Matthews, B., & Cady, C. (Oct. 2016). “Hunger On Campus – The Challenge of Food Insecurity for College Students”
**Wood, L., Harris, F., & Delgado, N. (2017). “Struggling to Survive- Striving to Succeed”