Food to Learn bycampus hunger

a guest blog post by Vermont Foodbank Board Member, Joe Zuaro

During our lives, we experience many transitions.  For many of us, these transitions involve a stint in the classroom.  Perhaps we are returning to school to improve our future job prospects in order to better provide for our family.  Maybe our education was interrupted and we are getting back on track.  Or maybe we are just transitioning from high school to college.

This is an exciting time, but for many it is full of stress and is downright scary.  Much of that stress comes from the financial responsibility that goes along with higher education.  Students have to worry about tuition, housing, transportation, and more.  Once a student has that all figured out, it’s clear sailing.  Right?  Well, not exactly.

Many students in college don’t fit the profile of the traditional student who is still being supported by their parents.  There are vast numbers of students who have no safety net.  After the first week of class they may find themselves needing to spend a thousand dollars on books alone.  Students who are parents also have the expense of child care.  And then there is the unexpected. What happens when the car needs repairs?  Many times the first thing to go is food and many students become food insecure.

Because of this, we need food shelves on college campuses. Students need a place they can go to get nutritious food to help them through the rough patches that could otherwise derail their plans to get a degree.  It is important to make it logistically simple for students to access food, so they don’t have to use valuable time to figure out an alternative food source, and can focus on their classes.  It will give them the strength to apply themselves to their studies and help them keep their goals in sight. It could even help reduce the stigma of food insecurity by showing other students and faculty that people in need are good people who are very similar to themselves.  Additionally,  students helped by a campus food pantry would be more likely to understand the plights of others and step up to help once they graduate.

There is nothing wrong with a society that has food pantries on college campuses.  It’s the right thing to do.