Food insecurity feeding on student education

There is a stigma surrounding food insecurity making it common for students to joke about the broke college student stereotype: surviving off Ramen noodles for every meal.

By definition, food insecurity is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Feeding America, a network of food banks, reported that 1 in 10 people who receive food are college students and almost 1 in 3 of those students chose between paying for food and education.

Food insecurity is a legitimate problem for most college students, but there is a lack of documentation at Citrus and its nearby food banks.

Student services such as Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, California Work Opportunity and Responsibility for Kids, and the Office of Institutional Research did not have any information about students who struggle with food insecurity.

Multiple food banks in Azusa, Covina, Glendora and other cities surrounding Citrus have said they do not have statistics on how many college students visit them to receive food.

Citrus College Student Trustee and political science major Juniper Cordova-Goff remembers sitting in class her first year worrying about finding food instead of paying attention to lectures.

Students who have not had this experiences may take it for granted that they have their needs met so easily.

“When you are dealing with food insecurity it becomes a stress on top of all your other normal expected stresses,” Cordova-Goff said.

She said she knows how much of an impact food insecurity has on students’ progress in school.

“It takes the focus off of what we are here for, which is education,” Cordova-Goff said.

There are some ways to combat and reduce food insecurity such as food pantries on campus, voucher systems and general activism.

The Student Health Center had a food pantry when the recession was low but it has decreased significantly through the past few years, Citrus Registered Nurse Susan Thorpe said.

“We are very willing to help students with resources and referrals who need them,” she said.

Philomena O’Shea, food services supervisor, has been fighting to keep prices low at the Owl Cafe and has even suggested a coupon system to help students.

“I try to keep the food affordable for the students because they cannot study on an empty stomach,” O’Shea said.

Food banks hosted and provided by colleges are on the rise, as shown by the creation of the College and University Food Bank Alliance, a professional organization created in 2012.

Many students have limited transportation and cannot get to food banks and although food insecure, may not always meet requirements to receive food, as reported by the CUFBA.

Cordova-Goff said the Associated Students of Citrus College executive board has recently been given funds that could allow them to start programs like these but has not spoken about food insecurity yet.

She said student activism would get programs started to help food insecure students.

“There aren’t many options advertised of what (students) could do to get help. We’re here to support students and food is an aspect that affects our academics,” Cordova-Goff said.


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