1 in 4 children under 5 in our state are food insecure.
Between 2010-13 North Carolina ranked among the top five states with the highest percentage of citizens experiencing food shortages. NC has several cities with some the highest levels of food insecurity in the nation: Asheville, Greensboro, HighPoint and Winston-Salem. Approximately 170,200 different people in NC receive emergency food assistance in any given week. This is equivalent to the entire current undergraduate enrollment of all 16 colleges and universities that make up the overall University of North Carolina system. North Carolina ranks in the ten worst states in the percentage of children under 18 who are lacking food on a regular basis. 80% of NC households with children and receiving food assistance don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 28% of food pantries in NC have had to turn people away for lack of food. 42% of families served by food banks have had to choose between buying food and heating their homes. 35% of families served by food banks have been forced to choose between paying for food or for their rent/mortgage. Data is from 2010 Hunger in America Study, by Feeding America and the Food Hardship in America 2012 Report from the Food Research and Action Center.
UNCG has over 17,000 students, so it is hard to determine what students are in need. However, one particular population in need are students who are homeless and /or hungry. According to the National Center for Homeless Education, many students have been in the foster system or grown up in homeless shelters for most of their lives and are transitioning to college for their first-year. Other students do not have family support, have lost their jobs, or have found themselves in a position where they cannot pay a bill because of an emergency situation.
Hunger on college campuses is a hidden, and potentially growing, problem. National statistics on this issue are scant. However, local studies shed light on the issue. For example, a recent survey of students in the City University of New York system revealed that 39% of students had been unable to afford balanced meals, skipped meals, or gone hungry for lack of money (Sandoval, 2012). Michigan State University opened a food bank in 1993 after finding similar results through a survey of graduate students. The oldest food bank on a college campus, the MSU Student Food Bank served over 5,000 students per year at the height of the economic crisis in 2008-2009, and continues to serve over 4,000 per year (Sandoval, 2012). Similarly, the UCLA food closet estimated that 30 – 50 students visit each day (Robbins, 2010). Colleges and universities across the nation have taken notice of the hunger problem on campus, as food pantries have opened at a variety of institutions, including Mississippi, Central Florida, Georgia, Iowa State, Oregon State and West Virginia.
Homelessness among college students is also a growing problem. FASFA data revealed that over 33,000 college students identified as homeless in 2011 (Kukulka, 2012). In North Carolina, state institutions have developed a resource list of contacts for homeless and transitioning students as one effort to provide assistance. However, UNCG is committed to providing targeted assistance to hungry, homeless, and transitioning students. (Written by Kristen Moretto.)
Robbins, K. (2010). Among dorm and dining halls, hidden hunger. The Atlantic. Retrieved online, February 25, 2013 from: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/05/among-dorms-and-dining-halls-hidden-hunger/39766/.
Sandoval, T. (2012, September 10). Money worries keep students going to campus food banks. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Kukkulka, A. (2012, November 5). Homeless students invisible on college campuses. The Columbia Chronicle. Retrieved online, February 25, 2013 from http://columbiachronicle.com/homeless-students-invisible-on-college-campuses/.
The association of North Carolina Food Banks.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of North Carolina.