Introduction and Background
Students’ academic success in universities and colleges significantly depends on their mental and physical well-being. Food insecurity is a significant, gradually growing concern causing physical and mental instability among college students, leading to poor academic responsibilities, stress, malnutrition and poor academic performances. The Hope Survey conducted in 2020 portrayed that 38% of all two-year and 29% of four-year student colleges suffer food insecurity. The survey also indicated significant racial and ethnic disparities concluding that 70% of black students and American Indian students suffer more food college insecurity compared to the 54% of white students in such colleges. These results significantly contributed to the post-COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated food insecurity among students (Niles et al., 3). The closure of university campuses and colleges contributed to the shutdown of vital student services, including food assistance, and the closure of companies offering employment to students, propagating food insecurity by 15%. Before the pandemic, 30% of the college’s total student population faced food insecurity.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, extended its efforts in providing programs to help students during the pandemic. However, these benefits are set to expire after thirty days of uplifting the health emergency restrictions with no legislative action, hence re-exposing the students to the havoc. The detrimental food security effects on students include poor academic performance and responsibilities, with most students falling under the lower GPA category, lower completion rates, poor class attendance and a high potential for stress and depression. However, the issue of food security among these students has far more consequences than affecting their academic responsibilities and performances. Increased criminal activities, including drug dealing, among the students is also significant as these students try to make ends meet.
An article on Food Security by Matthew Laundry gives an overview of food insecurity’s psychological effects and the interventions to implement to curb the problem. The author argues that poor dietary quality, lack of regular exercise and higher obesity are some underrated food insecurity risks (Matthew,1). Moreover, the author provides essential solutions that constitute amending administration and federal and concerned legislative bodies. Through the article, the author gives a complete analysis of the issue and practical solutions that can significantly help reduce the issue on the victim students. The main aim of this article is to explore ways that the parents, students and administration eliminate food insecurity instead of relying on government and other agencies’ aid.
Parental or guardian involvement is necessary to minimize the food security issue among university students. Parents of students with food insecurity should take part in creating awareness, supporting food banks and pantries by making donations and being employees in such facilities. Parents can also share information on the importance of eating healthy and guiding their school children in making an economical budget to help them during their stay at school. There is a high potential of students in the lower years suffering from food insecurity than students with higher academic years. The prevalence of food insecurity was highest among first-year students (25.2%) and lowest among seniors (17.8%) (Soldavini et al., 1). Therefore, it indicates that lower-year students lack proper knowledge of budgeting and misusing their funds. Students’ financial situations can better be explained by their parents and guardians. Research has shown that students from wealthy families also suffer from food. Therefore, financially stable parents can start businesses for their students, which will keep them busy after school hours, generating income for themselves. Such businesses keep students busy and even prevent them from activities leading to the prodigal use of money.
The administration has to implement a policy to determine the financial status of the students during their admissions. This can be done by assessing the background of all the students admitted, which can enable the administration to identify students who are likely to suffer from food insecurity hence planning to help such students. Moreover, the administration can work with the government to invent projects that will offer employment to the students. These programs will be initiated in and around the campuses. There is always food in school banks and pantries; where does it come from? With the government’s help, the administration can initiate production programs and various employment opportunities that can benefit the students and help them sustain their lives on campus. The production programs will also ensure that the school is independent in producing food hence not relying on food aid programs.
The administration should vent in food security campaigns and programs to create awareness among campus students. Most students, especially fresh men and women, need to gain knowledge of proper fund management and budgeting hence the need for education on these students to ensure they manage their funds well. Many universities have seen interest in such activity, with some like The City University of New York. (Freudenberg et al., 6). Moreover, these campaigns should emphasize the importance of saving for students. Parents should also be involved in such awareness programs to enable them to take participation. Most students waste much money on leisure, including alcohol, clubbing, drugs and clothing, leaving them with dry pockets to buy food.
The solutions provided by Matthew mainly concentrate on aid programs from federal government agencies and administration in giving aid to the students without considering how the student contributes to propagating the situation. As a student, I believe that, to some extent, students are responsible for food insecurity due to their prodigal use of funds on campus. Students, parents, and the administration should also take responsibility for mitigating the issue instead of relying on government aid. There is a need for the school to investigate students claiming to have food insecurities and invent ways to indulge students in raising funds to cater for the situation.
In conclusion, food insecurity is a chronic problem among college students in the United States. Parents, students and administration should take responsibility for mitigating the issue rather than depending on aid programs. Students can manage their funds and budget well for food by taking such actions. Everyone is responsible for reducing food security; therefore, we need to ensure that all students have access to healthy and affordable food, regardless of their financial situation. By implementing initiatives such as food security campaigns and campaigns involving students and initiating food production programs at school, we can improve college student’s health and academic success across the country.
Freudenberg, N., Goldrick-Rab, S., & Poppendieck, J. (2019). College students and SNAP: The new face of food insecurity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 109(12), 1652-1658
Matthew, J. (2021). Food insecurity on college and University campuses: A context and rationale for solutions. https://www.jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(21)01430-1/fulltext
Niles, M. T., Bertmann, F., Belarmino, E. H., Wentworth, T., Biehl, E., & Neff, R. (2020). The early food insecurity impacts of COVID-19. Nutrients, 12(7), 2096.
Soldavini, J., Berner, M., & Da Silva, J. (2019). Rates and characteristics associated with food insecurity differ among undergraduate and graduate students at a large public university in the Southeast United States. Preventive medicine reports, 14, 100836.