Aiding College Students Who Face Hunger

Volunteer holding up a bag of food at a Mobile Pantry

Volunteer holding up a bag of food at a Mobile Pantry

An estimated 1 in 3 U.S. college students is food insecure. This may impact not only their health, but also their ability to perform well academically and stay in school.

Many unique challenges are presented to college students that make it difficult for them to access the food they need. High cost of living, expensive grocery prices or meal plans, busy schedules, unreliable transportation and dietary restrictions are just a few of the barriers students face every day.

As your local food bank serving West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, we partner with numerous college food pantries that aim to end hunger for students on their campuses. We know how important it is for students to be able to focus on their education, so eliminating the worry about how they are going to feed themselves is our priority.

One of our college partner food pantries is located at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. The coordinator, Paul, clearly saw the need for food assistance in the student body and took action to create a food assistance resource. Along with some of his colleagues, they initially created a food closet in 2016. Yet after a year, they quickly realized a full pantry would be better to meet the demand.

Listening to the needs of students on campus is essential to how they operate, especially since they are now serving about 200 people every month. “If students live in a younger dorm, they have to have a meal plan, and that can get expensive. So, if they burn through that, we’re there to support them through the rest of the semester if need be. Or if they live in an older dorm and have a kitchen, students may be coming here to get help making meals. We’re self-service, so students can come here and get what they need,” said Paul.

Hunger affects people of all ages, but it is critical to understand the wide range of challenges presented to people of varying demographics. That is why college food pantries exist as one important step being taken to help end hunger for young adults.