When I attended college, I can always remember being hungry. My stomach would growl in any class, day or night. In addition, I struggled daily to stay within my personal budget, work hours at my job and maintain a full-time class schedule at college. This is a normal picture for many college students. I believe this is an age group that goes overlooked in our battle against hunger and food insecurity. More and more college students are seeking assistance through our partner agencies each day. We also see the requests come through the food bank's doors on a daily basis.
Last week, I received a call from an individual that I have known for over two decades. This individual began attending college last semester. After a good discussion on current events, the individual stated that the money was not stretching like it needed to and the individual needed help with food. The individual recently lost a job due to seasonal help ending after the holidays. To say I was shocked was an understatement: this individual is maintaining a 3.9 GPA at college and is a hard worker but cannot make ends meet.
I decided to run an "observation experiment" to put a face on the college students that are seeking food assistance. Over the past week or so, I began informally counting/observing the number of students coming through our doors asking for help. By the date of this blog post, I looked at the results: 41 percent of individuals needing help were college students. This stunned me and honestly, opened my eyes to an age-group that I had taken for granted. This made my "growling stomach" days in college pale in comparison to what a lot of students are going through.
I have tremendous respect for college students (no matter what public perception of a typical college student may be). For many, college is a full-time job along with other "paying" jobs he/she may be working. With over six community colleges and four-year universities in our service area, we know that there are students in need. Please check back regularly as the High Plains Food Bank will be announcing a great partnership with an organization to reach our to our college-aged population to help "Alleviate Hunger in the Panhandle."