A survey released last week from Hope Center for College (“College and University Basic Needs Insecurity: A National #RealCollege Survey Report”) indicated that 45% of respondents from over 100 institutions said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days. Some indicated they are so hungry they are lightheaded and dizzy. Some try to sleep through the pain of hunger.

When I was in college, I ate a lot of eggs, chicken, and boxed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. When my children were in college, they often subsisted on “ramen.” Ramen has since become the joke of survival in college.

Today, boxed mac and cheese or ramen is not enough to get through the hunger experienced by college students. The college food pantry movement has taken hold. Leftover food is packaged and redistributed through food pantries and other campus programs. Communities are asked to donate.

Yet this movement is not a solution. It’s a bandaid approach. Food pantries have never been intended to solve the problem of food insecurity.

Hunger affects a student’s grade and impacts their ability to be successful and graduate. It increases the likelihood of taking out student loans. It affects their overall health status. They may end up homeless in an effort to put money towards food.

The issue of poverty of food insecurity is deep and involved. While solutions are not readily at hand, there are some ways we can help empower students who face food insecurity. The following suggestions will not eradicate hunger, but are suggestions to support other efforts.

• Apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

• Institutions should allow redeeming SNAP benefits at cafeterias and other campus food outlets.

• Teach food budgeting and cooking before and during college years.

• Educate and train how to grow food in containers.

• Support campus gardens for students and faculty.

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