Even as food insecurity is becoming a major issue for many campuses across America; many higher education institutions are not aware how it is impacting their students.
Talking about hunger and acknowledging that it exists can be difficult. In a college campus setting, a minor financial set back can suddenly change a student’s ability to access food. These students likely lack the knowledge of what resources are available when confronted with an unfamiliar issue like hunger.
For campus stakeholders identifying the ebb and flow of those in need makes the issue more difficult. Answers to food insecurity are now emerging and schools can focus on partnerships to bring awareness to the fact that 36 percent of students do not get enough to eat.
Your dining services partner can be an important resource. Fresh Ideas has access to tools that are helpful in establishing a baseline about food insecurity at your campus. We’re also adept at spotting helpful patterns and trends, such as times of the semester that food insecurity may spike. The leadership at our dining facilities knows the student body well and can aide in identifying issues. You can turn to us for help with assessment, intervention programs, and general education.
Ideas for combating food insecurity run the gamut. Some campuses are experimenting with pop up food pantries. In this example, non-perishables are collected and a “pop-up” pick up is held. Your school might even consult with your dining services staff about whether a sharing table concept, starting with nonperishable food, is a program you could pilot. Both of these examples involve the student body, the ones closest to the issue, and another key partner to work with toward a solution.
Education is a great way to take a step towards doing something. Start by identifying which campus employees may already be a key point of contact in dealing with food insecurity. These leaders can act as a resource as programs are being established. Internal communication that educates the campus community who, or where, they can turn when faced with food insecurity issues is also important.
Solutions to food insecurity are as unique as each campus community. There is no one size that fits all solutions to addressing hunger in higher education. Awareness is the greatest agent for change. We’d love to start a conversation with your campus on how we can fight food insecurity together and make an impact in the community.
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