Boca Raton, Florida – The prevalent issue of food insecurity among college students is receiving national attention. American Dining Creations (ADC), a provider of institutional food services, highlights the severity of this crisis.
ADC notes, “A staggering one in three college students face food insecurity.” This concern was further exacerbated following Congress’ recent alterations surrounding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Provisions from 2020 that facilitated the ease of obtaining SNAP benefits, including a 15% rise in maximum benefits and automatic qualification for students with an Expected Family Contribution of zero, lapsed in June 2023.
Cailyn Gordon, a sophomore at FAU, shared her personal challenges related to food insecurity, stating, “My body definitely took the hit where I was so tired and could barely focus and my body was aching, and there were times I would be at work and almost pass out.”
Similarly, Clare Prather, a senior at the same institution, conveyed the profound physical and emotional toll of food insecurity, remarking, “Food insecurity has affected me tremendously in a mental and physical way. Mentally it’s hard because it is depressing not knowing when your next meal will be. Physically it’s damaging because it messes with the body, and leads to being malnourished, loss of weight and other health issues.”
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019, hyperinflation has posed challenges for many, with college students being particularly affected, especially those reliant on SNAP benefits. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office disclosed that “nearly 1.5 million students nationwide receive SNAP benefits.” Yet, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) identified that merely 40% of eligible students access these benefits.
Carrie Welton of The Institute for College Access and Success conveyed the complexities of the SNAP system even prior to the pandemic, noting, “[Before] COVID-19, the SNAP benefit system was already complicated and that itself was already a barrier.” She emphasized the pressing need to address food insecurity, which affects numerous students beyond Florida Atlantic’s campuses.
To alleviate these issues, Welton proposed a revision of FAU’s meal plan policy, advocating for the removal of compulsory meal plan purchases. This would empower students to use those funds for nutritionally rich foods tailored to their needs. She further recommended a partnership with Swipe Out Hunger, a non-profit entity. Such a collaboration would entail donating extra food swipes to students in dire need and advocating for policy initiatives that promote hunger-free campuses at a broader level.