Have you ever worried that you would run out of food before you could afford more? Have you ever had trouble affording balanced meals? Have you ever eaten less than you should by cutting the size of your meals or skipping meals because there wasn’t enough money? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you may or may have been food insecure.
Food insecurity is when people are unable to prioritize and/or access food as easily as others can due to their financial instability.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, students, staff, and community members gathered in Lecture Center 100 to learn about the implications of food insecurity on college campuses from diverse panelists championing this very issue.
The Wisconsin Hope Lab conducted a study in April 2018. They surveyed 43,000 students, across 66 institutions and 22 states, and found that 36 percent of university students and 42 percent of community college students are food insecure or were at some point in the 30 days preceding the survey.
“About a third of students at SUNY New Paltz and probably a third of you in this room have experienced food insecurity,” said associate professor of political science Shala Mills.
What these numbers really mean is that a third of the students on campus have been experiencing issues sustaining their higher education.
Fourth-year students Leith Kusmider and Nicholas Leone commented on how easy it is to fall into a pattern of food insecurity, almost as if it comes with the territory of being a college student.
“Although the campus provides us with so many food options on campus, not all of them are particularly nutritional,” Kusmider said. “They’re also not exactly affordable for those of us who don’t live on campus or have meal plans.”
“Even if you can afford them, our schedules are so packed that sometimes eating a meal falls at the bottom of your to-do list,” Leone said.
Although it is a growing problem, New Paltz is taking serious measures to combat this issue. Hosting this lecture to inform people about food insecurity and how we can work together to eradicate it from our community is just one step of the much larger process. Providing those who attended the lecture with a free meal and snacks was another.
In fact, one way to prevent food insecurity, besides offering a space such as a food pantry to students and staff, is to offer free food during on-campus events.
Other solutions involve keeping the inflation of prices of food on campus to a minimum to prevent discouragement of eating meals on campus when bank accounts or dining dollars can’t afford it. Schools can also offer money management resources or assistance to those who need help budgeting themselves.
SUNY New Paltz students and staff can access the campus food pantry in SUB 322 as well as the Family of New Paltz Food Pantry Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. at 51 N Chestnut St. For more information, visit www.hope4college.com