March 15, 2017

Statement: MAZON Calls for Holistic Solutions to Address Growing Food Insecurity Among College Students

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Abby J. Leibman, president and CEO at MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, today issued this statement in response to new research that finds two-thirds of community college students experience food insecurity:

“Stories of hunger among college students have been widely documented in the press, resulting in, among other actions, senators calling on the Government Accountability Office to study food insecurity at American colleges and universities. Today, hunger’s growing prevalence among college students was confirmed by researchers at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab. The study, comprised of more than 33,000 students at 70 community colleges in 24 states, found substantially higher rates of food insecurity compared to 2015.

“It is beyond shocking that two-thirds of our nation’s community college students struggle with hunger. These students are working to create opportunity for themselves by earning a college degree. When they do not know when or from where their next meal may come, these students’ concentration is split, which greatly affects their ability not only to learn and complete assignments, but also to realize their hopes and dreams. College students need and deserve our support as they work to improve their lives.

“We are mindful, however, that the causes and circumstances of hunger are complex and nuanced, and so must be any solution to address this problem. The vast and pervasive nature of college hunger exists at a scope and scale that requires an approach that is broader than charity and food pantries alone can provide. In the short term, food assistance is vital. But we must create policy solutions that effectively address not only the symptoms of food insecurity among college students, but also the causes that allow these circumstances to persist.

“MAZON is proud to partner with Sara Goldrick-Rab and the HOPE Lab (soon to be HOPE Center) in working toward solutions that will do more than provide temporary relief. Together with all our partners, we can move beyond short term, stop-gap measures, and do what’s necessary to ensure that college students do not go hungry while journeying on their path to career success. Together we can change how it is to how it should be.”