Too Many College Students Are Going Hungry

A new report shows that 10% of college enrollees are “food insecure”

Aug 24, 2014 at 9:00AM

Flickr / fusion_of_horizons.

The rising cost of attending college has attracted a lot of attention lately, particularly when it comes to the enormous pile of student loan debt most enrollees are accumulating.

A new study shows that the burden of pursuing a college diploma also inflicts pain upon students in a more immediate and personal way. The recent Hunger in America 2014 report reveals that food insecurity is a real problem in the U.S., even among those whom we would expect should have such basic needs provided within the framework of their educational expenditures.

The prevalence of hunger
Feeding America, a coalition of 200 member food banks across the United States, publishes this report every four years. This year's study is the first in which questions regarding student status were included, among other new queries. This change was likely due to the effects of the Great Recession, which caused a great influx of people of all socio-economic backgrounds into the realm of higher education. 

Of the 46.5 million served by Feeding America each year, 10% of the adults are college students – 2 million of whom are full-time. Over 30% of households spoke of having to choose between food and educational expenses on a yearly basis. 

While this study has brought this issue front and center, the problem has been noted by others, as well. A whopping 59% of the student population at Western Oregon University was found to be food insecure in a report issued earlier this year, while a UC Berkeley survey of undergraduates in 2012 found that 47% skipped meals – occasionally or more often – to save money. 

The stigma of not having enough to eat
In response, college food banks have been springing up to help students fight food insecurity issues. Once unheard of, the number of campus food assistance centers numbered at least 121 as of this past spring, according to the Michigan State University Food Bank. In 2008, there were only four.

The idea that college students need food pantries isn't very well known, probably because of the stigma attached to admitting that getting enough to eat is a problem.

When Iowa State University opened its food bank in early 2011, a senior interviewed by ABC News described working up his nerve to enter its doors. At LaGuardia Community College in New York, needy students wait in the wings as college staff gather groceries from the school's food pantry, delivering the goods in a nondescript shopping bag. 

Colleges and universities can help
While it seems incredible that nearly 50 million people are hungry in a wealthy nation like the U.S., the study shows that the problem is endemic, touching households with and without children, and encompassing all age groups, regardless of age and education. Many of those affected are working families, including those attending college part-time.

It is well known that childhood hunger impairs the ability to learn – among other things – and there's no reason to think that the effect would not be similar for adults. Certainly, no one in America should have to feel the effects of food insecurity. In the case of college students, however, an immediate fix is possible: Institutions of higher learning could earmark some of their hefty annual income to eradicate this problem on their campuses, and should take steps to do so, without delay.

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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

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That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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