New survey finds more college students reporting ‘food insecurity’

Oct 6, 2016

The threat of hunger appears to be a growing concern for some college students.  Nearly 4,000 students, on 34-campuses in 12-states, including New York, participated in a recent survey on the topic. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley tells us the new report found more than one in five students struggling with buying food. 

Food items from Buffalo State's food pantry.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“Hunger has become a reality for far too many college students,” stated Wesley Thomas, Project Coordinator with NYPRIG at Buffalo State.

Students on Buffalo State's campus heading to classes as NYPRIG students explain hunger study.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Students from NYPRIG conducted this survey. The new report, “Hungry on Campus,” said students are struggling with 'food insecurity'.  That's a term describing students who cannot afford to buy food or find healthy options.

Buffalo State student Olivia Harbol is a project leader for Hungry and Homeless at the college. Harbol said the high cost of college, text books and other factors to blame.

“I think it is a little bit of both. College is really expensive, but also a lot of the people have other problems going on in their lives. It's not just college costs, they’re worrying about where they're going to live. They're struggling with their homes or they don't have a home,” Harbol replied.

The survey found ‘food insecurity’ was more prevalent among students of color. 57-percent of Black and African American reported the problem compared to 40-percent of non-Hispanic and white students and 56-percent of first generation college students also had a high rate of food insecurity.

Buffalo State's Assistant Director Kristen Helling works with several students who can't afford food.   

Buffalo State works to provide students in need with food & assistance.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“What I’m seeing for students that visit our office is that they’re having trouble finding employment. They’re first generation college students. They’re coming in, they’re balancing the finances of being here on campus for the first time without having a job when they first get here, so it’s giving them the skill sets they need, whether assisting them with SNAP benefits, food stamps, getting them on their feet and getting them the resources they need to be successful college students,” explained Helling.                                         

Buffalo State works to assist students who are in need by providing a food pantry service.