College students experience many challenges throughout their higher education journey. Students face many challenges which can include family expectations, financial debt and dealing with mental health problems. One of these challenges include being food insecure. The Health Affairs calls it the “Invisible Epidemic” as 30% of all college students experience food insecurity at some point in their college career. Breaking this down further, 38% are from two year colleges and 20% are students at a four-year institution.
Recently a former Let’s Go intern, Nathen Ortiz, conducted a survey and asked the Let’s Go community if they experience food insecurity. 31.8% of respondents were community college students, 31.8% were CSU students, 9.1% were from a private institution, 27.3% were students at a UC institution. These students were asked a variety of questions related to food insecurity, such as if they also experienced housing insecurity, if their institution offered a food pantry and how accessible said food pantry was. About 45.5% of the respondents consider themselves food insecure, 31.8% do not consider themselves food insecure and 22.7% said they were not sure. From this data, it is gathered that almost 50% of the respondents were food insecure and from these correspondents, 60% also struggled with housing insecurity. Challenges that contribute to students struggling with food insecurity have to do with not receiving enough financial aid, having to pay for other expenses and bills, losing jobs, and having financial emergencies.
Suggestions students presented to address food insecurity among college students and improve food services in their institutions were:
- Institutions being more vocal of resources outside school like food banks and other food-related programs
- Giving leftover food to students
- Outreach programs and outside resources
- Grocery store gift cards
- Providing stipends or emergency funds for students in need
- Giving free meal swipes for students
- Providing free grocery food stamps and other forms of food insecurity support for eligible students
Everyone says that starting college is a very exciting part of your life but no one really talks about the stress that comes with preparing for college. There are things you need to figure out such as: will you be living on campus or with family? How will you get to and from school? When thinking of commuting you need to take in consideration a checklist that would make your commuting experience more enjoyable. Here are some tips to make your commute easier:
Whether you are commuting by public transportation or by your own vehicle, one of the most important things is staying safe. Sometimes you may stay in school very late and by the time you head home it is dark or you may need to leave home very early in the morning. No matter the time, here are some tips on staying safe:
Pepper spray, taser and emergency car kit are all helpful tools that can be used during an emergency. Read the instructions on how to properly use these tools and only use them for emergencies.
Android and Apple have an emergency mode on smartphones to help during difficult situations. Depending on the company, these programs allow you to add emergency contacts, call emergency services and put your phone on ultra power saving mode.
More information for apple users, samsung, and android users.
Sometimes you are running late and forget to make yourself breakfast or maybe you did not pack lunch. One way to avoid this is by meal planning! There are many ways to meal plan, it is done according to your lifestyle. If you have never meal planned before, here is a some tips for beginners:
When meal planning, it is important to save on produce! Here are some guides to CalFresh, SNAP, and food banks that may be available near you.
Have a long commute? One of the discouraging things about having a long commute is knowing how to fill in the time.
Student discounts for Apple Music and Spotify
If you have an exam that day, you can review your notes or study guides on the way to school. This is helpful because you are briefly reviewing your notes before your exam to make sure you don’t forget some last minute details.
Discounted Bus Passes for Students
If you will be taking public transportation to get to and from school, you will need a bus pass. The cost for a bus pass can accumulate but luckily there are programs that offer discounts for students! Additionally, these offers have unlimited rides for your semester/quarter.**
- Orange County and Irvine Students
- Bay Area Students
- Clipper Card
- Will be able to use on Caltrain Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, Muni, SamTrans, etc… Check the FAQ for more information
- Must have an income level below $89,320
*keep in mind some places do not allow pepper spray, tasers or anything sharp inside their perimeters
**rules may vary, visit websites for more information
Free or reduced-cost services like medical care, food, job training and more can be found around your area! Food or reduced-cost services are services that are free or are at a reduced cost for people with low-income. These services are also available for people with undocumented status.
- Aunt Bertha is one of the largest and most used online social care networks for individuals looking to connect to Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) in the United States. To get started, input your zip code and Aunt Bertha will connect you with CBO’s near you.
- The Employment Development Department (EDD) of the State of California provides to keep employers, employees, and job seekers competitive. This website provides additional resources that may help you.
Reduced cost or free internet access:
Information on low-cost computers:
Northern California: in English and Spanish
Southern California: in English and Spanish
Databases that include services for undocumented communities:
Food is a basic human right, yet prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 36% of college students faced food insecurity in the United States. According to Feeding America, food insecurity is “a federal measure of a household’s ability to provide enough food for every person in the household to have an active, healthy life.” Food insecurity is such a big issue for students because it can affect your test scores, concentration, energy, academic standing, and lowers your chances of graduating. In addition, food insecurity affects the most vulnerable students ex. students who receive financial aid, students who are parents/ caretakers, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, first-generation students, BIPOC, and more.
Unfortunately, students who are facing food insecurity are not accessing all the public benefits they could. The food insecurity among college students can get worse because families are losing income, medical bills are piling up, and folks are being forced to tap-in to their savings. However there are college, local, state and federal resources for you as a student.
Below is a list of food banks/ pantries that are accessible to you and your family at no cost, because no student should go upon not knowing when their next meal will be.
The CalFresh Program is for people with low-income who meet federal income eligibility rules. CalFresh provides you with a budget to put healthy and nutritious food on the table.
CalFresh is a state program that awards you up to $193 a month for groceries. *Benefit amount has increased to the pandemic. Up to $234 for one individual.
If you are a student, you can get CalFresh if you:
- Work at least 20hrs/wk, on average, OR
- Are approved for state or federal work-study money and anticipate working during the term, OR
- Are a full-time student with a child under age 12
- For further requirements, click here.
- More special rules for students and exceptions click here.
**The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 has temporarily expanded SNAP eligibility to more students, including students
- enrolled at least part-time in an institution of higher education
- students eligible for work-study, without the requirement that they actually participate
- have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 in the current academic year
- To read more about the changes, click here.
To begin signing up for CalFresh, select your county and get started. You will need to submit proof of your situation.
- Documents that are usually required to get CalFresh:
- Copy of ID
- Proof of any income
- Proof of immigration status (for non-citizens)
- Proof of student status (for college students)
- What if you can’t get proof?
- Tell the caseworker during the interview. CalFresh generally accepts a sworn statement as last resort.
Apply now online at https://www.getcalfresh.org/
CSU CalFresh Information: https://www2.calstate.edu/impact-of-the-csu/student-success/basic-needs-initiative/Pages/calfresh-and-the-csu.aspx#:~:text=Student%20Eligibility%20for%20CalFresh,eligible%20to%20receive%20CalFresh%20benefits.