By: Adesewa Adesina
October 24, National Food Day, is the day where different foods around the globe are recognized. Cultural foods from each continent, county, region, state, and street are enjoyed. This is a day where the spirit of entertainment is passed around the table between families and friends. However, this day is also a sensitive time for those who don’t have the resources due to a lack of food at home. The two main groups facing food insecurity are first generation and low income college students. The students that are facing food insecurity include those who are first generation, low income, homeless and students with children (EduMed Staff and Ferone, 2021). First generation students are the first people to earn a degree in their family. Going to universities is one of the ways that low income students can earn income for their family. In some cases, universities are there to prove an escape way for families to have stable income. Unfortunately, college students can’t afford to attend the universities based on the lack of sufficient funds regarding student loans. For low income students obtaining a higher education is the direction taken, sometimes the price of education is not obtainable (Conroy, 2022). The importance of gaining a higher education is to get an excellent education for a degree, employment, explore more life opportunities and network with future professionals. To get a college degree the standard route is four years using private and public schools. Private universities’ get more funds while public universities’ don’t always get as much funds. Sometimes, universities charge students’ more on room and board than tuition. These charges on the bill will result in students going on GoFundMe, a fundraising website asking for money from strangers to pay for the academic term. This relates to food insecurity because college students do not have access to food on and off campus.
The root problem behind this phenomena is the narrow mindset of companies: to make profit. With financial gain being based off of the profit margin, companies tend to focus on the total revenue rather than the expenses. As a result, areas that don’t bring in money may be given less attention and a food desert is developed, which are locations where there is limited access to affordable, nutritious food with few chain grocery stores. Food insecurity may lead to college students going through food deserts. The development of food insecurity is based on the limitations of food. Families will have to travel to richer income neighborhoods to buy groceries. The families of the college student will have to travel miles to the next town to eat. Instead of the student(s) studying and focusing on the class, the possibility of not knowing where the next meal is coming from is a distraction. Not having access to good would result in the chance of increasing mental health issues such as depression and/or failing or retaking the course. As of 2018, households with approximately 11 million children, have food insecurity (Save The Children.com). Food insecurity is the lack of access to foods that ensure that the body is nourished properly. Many corporations determine when and where stores will be built based on the region’s demographic income. In places where the residents have a higher income, the stores may have better quality and nutritious inventory. In contrast, in areas where the residents have a lower income, the stores may have food that lacks quality and less nutritious inventory. Six hundred thirty dollars ($630) is the average grocery taxes in Alabama. In most households, this tax is about half a paycheck (Magnus-Sharpe, 2021). There are several strategies to combat funding allocations that universities can to show the students their voices have been heard. First, strategery is that universities should provide weekly or monthly food drives for families. The food drive ensures that families for the college students’ have fresh groceries. Donated non perishable items allows for the college’s students not to consume expired meals. Second, the strategy is to have a greenhouse or garden on campus. This is to provide fresh fruits and vegetables. Third, the strategy is to have a lower meal option if applicable. Having an acceptable plan for on campus and off campus students. College students are charged based on room, tuition and board (Clark, 2021). It can be overwhelming for low income families to find a way to pay the bill. Resulting in the availability of food for students and their family to be small since income and location play significant roles. Families are going to have throughout the neighboring states or town just to have food on the table
Consequently, many families must travel to the suburbs just to buy groceries for their survival. Approximately 25% of children do not have access to food at home according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s questionnaire given (Harrison 2022). Furthermore, in the act of greed, many businesses may deliberately increase the price of food, consciously knowing that many families can’t afford it. When the price of food increases, people will have to decide on what is needed for survival — leaving families to have to choose between their needs such as clothing, rent and food. The political greediness and insensitive mentality of businesses appear to create this cause and effect in food insecurity. Food insecurity is based on the lack of access to food based on the conditions of the economy (Schweizer, 2022).
It is often known that most college students are not quite financially stable on an independent level while completing their degree. Data shows around 40% of college students are at risk of experiencing food insecurity (Selcho, n.d). However, at the same time, it is critical that college students eat food throughout the day. Consumption of food from a variety of food categories ensures that nutritional needs are being met. A combination of fresh vegetables, eggs, fruits, dairy, grains, and/or fish and meat and to provide sufficient nutritional value should be included in their daily diets. College students must have access to nutritional food to stimulate their brains for critical thinking inside and outside of the classroom setting. With the overwhelming cost of tuition, college students shouldn’t have to struggle with the concern of not knowing what their next meal will be. Universities are a safety net for college students that have family and financial restrictions at home, so it is critical that meal plans come in handy.
Most college students either live on campus or commute. In some cases, there is food insecurity on campus when food is not considered an important expense. Although, universities have optional meal plans for students to have the opportunity to eat at different locations on campus, the cost of the meal plan can be expensive. Approximately 15% of college students have been labeled as facing food insecurity (Howard and Beckham, 2021). Some families may not have the extra funds to add additional money to the meal plan for their children, and this may result in students skipping meals to save money. Additionally, some of the food served under the meal plan may not appear to be appetizing, which may deter students from eating this food.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, faulty water pipes, and tornadoes are also big contributors to food shortages. Sometimes, these disasters cause students to lack access to healthy foods and clean water. Energy, water and food are the resources impacted by natural disasters (Daher et al., 2021). In fact, wildfires are a key contributor to crop damage, resulting in the inhibition of growth. Furthermore, food processing facilities burning down prevents food from being distributed across the states. Food distribution is one of the major reasons for description in our society (Siegel, 2021). In the discussion of food distribution, our society doesn’t give enough credit to truck drivers for their task of being a mediator between corporations and the public. Distribution of inventory in many states is necessary so foods do not expire before the expected date. These natural disasters are prompting food insecurities in several universities and communities. Midwest University demonstrates the impact of food insecurity amongst graduate and undergraduate students based on the differential identity groups (1), the reasons why food is limited such as timing and money (2), and provided the strategy on tackling the issues on campus (3) [Hiller, 2021]. Hiller 2021, provides that all college students from undergraduate and graduate programs are impacted by food insecurity. The strategy provided is to buy the cheapest food and/or government assistance. Hiller 2021, displays food insecurity is based on the differential on institutional, intrapersonal and interpersonal mechanisms.
It is noteworthy to understand that nobody can fix or change the weather patterns. This is an issue that we should all feel responsible to contribute to solving as the person right next to you can be facing the difficulty of not knowing where their next meal will be coming from. There are several methods to combat food insecurity. To fix and prevent potential food insecurity, communities should come together and host farmer’s markets. Farmer markets are easier to access for those who can’t afford to go to a traditional grocery store. This is the time of year where the sense of community brings people back together. The feeling of being home is not necessarily dependent on location, but rather it is about being surrounded by loved ones and a supportive community. Also, people who love to garden have the option to sell their fresh vegetables and fruits. Additionally, food banks are an alternative to get premade meals every week. Each of the steps at a local level illustrates that food insecurity isn’t just a general and localized problem, it is a worldwide issue. Families should not be forced to pick which one of their children is going to survive. In some situations, parents will be forced to sell all their properties just to eat at night. The real question that must be answered is: How can we live in a society where our college students are starving?
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