Food Insecurity Another Systemic Barrier to College Persistence and Success

You may have seen a recent story in The New York Times that highlighted the rise in food insecurity—the state of having limited or uncertain access to food—among college students. According to a Temple University survey published on April 30, 45 percent of students from over 100 institutions had been food insecure in the past 30 days. The situation is even more dire here in New York City, where 48 percent of CUNY students surveyed indicated they had been food insecure.

It’s heartbreaking that so many students who are pursuing higher education are forced to forgo meals in order to keep up with expenses. While there is no need more basic than food, it’s also important to note that there are other costs associated with college that many people take for granted. Staff who work directly with our students report that students often struggle to afford a MetroCard or internet service—it’s hard to keep up with school work if you can’t take the subway to class or get online.

Without the right support, these barriers can cause students to fall behind academically, and even drop out. This is why we are committed to providing holistic support for all of our students, especially as they navigate the challenges and unexpected costs associated with college. Our College Coaches check in with students regularly, helping to address these obstacles by connecting students to resources on campus and developing budgeting plans.

Some of the solutions presented in the Times article, such as waiving work requirements for SNAP benefits and the Debt-Free College Act, are moving in the right direction toward addressing the systemic inequalities that make it challenging for students from low-income backgrounds to make it to and through college. In the meantime, we are here for our students to provide any support they need to succeed in college and beyond.