Campus Hunger Awareness Week: Oped

I wrote an oped before, previously imploring the Clark community to picture a college student. It became a consensus, through emails and comments that I received, that the affluent, young adult, who comes from a privileged background and is able to spend exuberant money on tuition, groceries, and other necessary items is truly not the reality here or at other colleges throughout the nation.

Students are getting one, two, maybe even three jobs in addition to their time at Clark. Yet nearly 100 percent of students who end up with a degree have debt still at the end--and those who leave without a degree endure the debt too. College prices, including Clark’s, continue to raise, and work is not enough to fund students.

The issue of food insecurity among college student is continuously growing in size and severity. The rampant problem reaches nearly half of students nationwide. Many students give money to their parents for food, leaving themselves short for their own meals. Many with food insecurity are also experiencing unnecessary stress, due to the task of keeping up with academics, work, and the human need to eat. This is not something an 18- to 24-year-old should be concerned about throughout their time at college, a time meant for exploration and learning, not for hunger and money scavenging.

We are all blessed to be part of the student body her at Clark. We are about our peers, with the literal motto “Marginalization is not something we do here.”

But when does this adage actually come into play? When are we actually going to not marginalize the students who cannot afford the meal plan and are left to wander the campus hungry?

Clark does not have much in action for students who face food insecurity. There are no scholarships. There are no emergency funding. There are no designated points of contact. We have a community garden, but that does not bloom all-year round, and we have a few measly guest swipes for our friends that run out pretty quickly. This lack of on-campus resources is detrimental to not only the students that need the help but also to what we are meant to represent as a campus as a whole.

This is where I need your help. If the national average of almost half of college students being food insecure holds true, then nearly 1,200 students are Clark are just passing by each day. I have created a Food Aid Plan that would ratify this issue. A 5-meal plan is a solution needed for food insecure students, and student government has already backed it. What we need now, however, before this can go forward is a school-wide survey.

Today is the end of Campus Hunger Awareness Week. Let’s raise our voices as a Clark community. Let’s ban together and make sure no one goes hungry. Share your story. Explore your options within the Worcester community. Become a part of this food aid initiative.

We cannot be successful as a college together unless we are all fighting food insecurity.