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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ASU chapter.

Have you ever been in class and all of a sudden your stomach growls? Or maybe you are working on an assignment, and all you can think about is the leftover pizza in your fridge? For most students, this is but a brief inconvenience, but some students experience hunger and food insecurity on a regular basis.

What is Food Insecurity?

According to the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, “food security means having access to enough food for an active, healthy life.”  Unfortunately, food security remains out of reach for many. In fact, the USDA reports that 12.5% of US Households experienced food insecurity in 2021, which means that “at times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food.”  Recently, Swipe Out Hunger, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating food insecurity from college campuses, held their 2023 Year in Review Town Hall, sharing stories from students who experienced difficulty maintaining their school work and study habits because of food insecurity.  

How to get assistance

First, search your university website for terms such as food bank, food pantry, and food insecurity to see if your campus has helpful resources. Some universities do not advertise their food pantries, so you may need to search for food pantries in your area. Feeding America has a website for finding food banks by zip code or state. Also, check to see if your college is a Swipe Out Hunger campus partner here.

How to help

Most food banks welcome monetary and food donations. Check with your local food bank to see if they have a list of preferred shelf-stable foods such as pasta and peanut butter. Not all food banks can handle perishable food items. Consider volunteering to help at your local food bank, particularly if you will be able to commit to a recurring schedule. According to Swipe Out Hunger’s 2021 Survey, 34% of college food pantries have trouble maintaining their inventory; 24% of college food pantries have issues acquiring funding, and 16% of college food pantries have difficulty finding and maintaining consistent volunteers.

Urge your local campus to make changes

If you find that your university does not have a food assistance program, reach out to your student body government to see if they can effect change. For example, in 2021, the Arizona State University Senate Student and Faculty Policy Committee adopted a resolution promoting food security for students. You could be the spark for change at your campus. 

Support the Hunger-Free Campus Bill

Ten states have approved a version of the Hunger Free Campus Bill.  Another 10 states have introduced the bill in their legislatures. You can view the status of the bill in each state at this link. Reach out to your state representatives to show your support for ending hunger on college campuses. For students in Tempe, AZ, consider contacting Rep. Athena Salman or Rep. Melody Hernandez. Other Arizona state representatives can be found at this link.

Stop by and say hi

Even if you don’t have the resources or time to donate, visit your campus food pantry and say hello.  Knowing the location and an idea of what items are available may help you help a friend in need.  Plus, you will meet some caring individuals in your community while letting them know you care, too.

Becky is a graduate student in the Masters of Computer Science program at Arizona State University and is a writer at the HER Campus at Arizona State University chapter. Prior to her time at Arizona State, Becky received a Bachelor of Science in Computing Science from Sam Houston State University, and she worked as a software engineer at an aerospace company for several years. Besides writing, Becky enjoys tennis, amateur radio, and gardening.