A new study has shown that up to 67 percent of college students are not eating enough.

Starving Students?

Wisconsin’s HOPE Lab’s 2017 “Hungry and Homeless in College” report shows that up to 67 percent of college students are not eating enough. It is a pretty common image to imagine college students skipping meals to study these days, but it is not commonly known that many of these students skip meals because they can’t afford it.

This shows that even though many schools are allowing lower income students the opportunity to attend college through scholarships etc, this might not be enough. The numbers of widespread studies that examine the impacts of food insecurity at college levels are lacking. However, some smaller studies do help show the effects it can have on things such as stress levels, lower GPAs, and a drop in the probability of actually finishing their degree by almost 10%.

“[Studies show] that food and housing insecurity is hindering academic progress,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, HOPE Lab’s founder. “There is plenty of evidence of effort among these students; they have grit coming out of their ears. But unlike in K-12 education, we don’t match their commitment with programs to ensure they get to eat and sleep.”

Some Examples

One example of such students is Justice Butler, who studies at “Houston Community College.” Justice was juggling college as well as a full-time job years ago. Unfortunately, she ended up losing her job and becoming homeless and starving. Living that way, she lost almost 20 pounds.

“Not being able to eat correctly made it a struggle. I felt tired and drained,” she said. “It was hard to focus and study, but I had help from my homeless friends who encouraged me and helped me study.”

She also said that her friend helped her change her life by convincing her to go back to college. She regained most of the weight she had lost since. “I think my stomach shrunk,” she said. “The most important time [to eat] is mornings, and then a snack, I manage so that it stretches. I learned to eat more healthy, things like salads that fill me up.”

She also learned to make use of the campus’s free food offerings. She said she would sometimes go to the nearby Chinese restaurant and fill up on their buffet. She also learned to share that with other students who are hungry and homeless. “Now that I’ve overcome that struggle, it has impacted me to make sure no other student goes through that,” she said.


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