Trending in higher ed: food insecurity among college students

When thinking of concerns that college students face, it is common to think of rising tuition rates, choosing a major, and studying for and passing exams. But for nearly half of college students, food insecurity is a big concern, according to a recent nationwide survey from the Hope Center for College Community and Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Food insecurity can include skipping meals, eating less at meals, worrying that food will run out, and experiencing hunger due to lack of funds to afford food.

A recent article from MarketWatch explains that a combination of factors explain why so many college students struggle to afford the basics—like food. Things like college costs, housing expenses, and stagnant wages could all be factors leading to student food insecurity. The article also notes that student parents are more likely to experience housing and food insecurity than students without children.

Colleges and universities are increasingly stepping in to help students who face food and basic-needs insecurity and providing them with resources. Here’s what Utah System of Higher Education institutions are doing to help their students:

University of Utah
The Feed U Food Pantry provides non-perishable food for students, their families, faculty, and staff. Run by volunteers, the food pantry has impacted over 1,000 U members and their families since opening in October 2014.

Utah State University
Started in 2010 by a group of students concerned about fellow students’ access to food, the Student Nutrition Access Center (SNAC) provides canned and boxed food to USU students in need. The center also offers recovered bread, bagels, pastries, and other food from USU Dining Services and, during the growing season, fresh vegetables from the Utah Conservation Corps Community Farm.

Weber State University
The Weber Cares Pantry offers non-perishable food items and other resources (such as personal hygiene items and baby food) for students, faculty, and staff experiencing food insecurity. The food pantry also has a refrigerator section that carries fresh food options (fruits, vegetables, milk, and bread) when available.

Southern Utah University
The HOPE Pantry provides SUU students facing food insecurity with non-perishable food items and some hygiene items. The pantry serves 60-90 students per month and can also accept non-perishable food donations.

Dixie State University
Maintained by the service branch of the DSU Student Association, and in partnership with the Utah Food Bank, the Dixie State food pantry provides resources for any DSU student, faculty, or staff member facing food insecurity. In addition to food items, DSU’s food pantry also offers hygiene and feminine products.

Utah Valley University
In partnership with Community Action Services and Food Bank, UVU runs an on-campus food pantry offering canned and boxed items, as well as basic hygiene kits and items such as baby formula and diapers. The food pantry is available to any UVU student, faculty, or staff member struggling with food insecurity.

Salt Lake Community College
The Bruin Pantry at SLCC, in partnership with the Utah Food Bank, provides safe, quality, and nutritious food to all SLCC students, faculty, and staff.