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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Hungry in college?

Credit: Minju Sun/New York Times

Thirty-six percent of four-year college students and 42 percent of community-college students are “food insecure,” according to a report by Temple University and Wisconsin HOPE Lab. Headlines called hungry students a “hidden crisis.”

Baloney, responds James Bovard in a USA Today commentary.

 This analysis is modeled on the Department of Agriculture’s annual Food Security survey. USDA is emphatic that its survey does not measure hunger.Temple/HOPE respondents were asked questions such as whether they feared “food would run out before I got money to buy more,” or “Did you ever eat less than you felt you should because there wasn’t enough money for food?”

He notes that survey respondents were self-selected, not a random sample of students. Female students, who are more likely to say they’re “food insecure,” made up 70 percent of respondents, males 27 percent and “non-binary” 3 percent.

Seventy percent of college students gain weight during their undergraduate years, notes Bovard. The percentage of overweight or obese students rose from 23 percent to 41 percent during four years of college, according to a report published in the 2017 Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Advocates want the federal government to fund “free or reduced-cost meals at colleges, as is already done in primary and secondary schools,” reports the Washington Post.

Colleges should offer low-cost meal plans instead of “five-star buffets,” concludes Bovard. “Obliterating individuals’ responsibility for feeding themselves is the worst possible dietary outcome.”

It’s hard to study when you’re hungry, writes Sara Goldrick-Rab, who studies low-income college students, in the New York Times. It’s not like the old days, when students worked part-time and ate ramen noodles, she writes. “Even though a far greater percentage of college students qualify for financial aid than in the past, colleges and states have fewer dollars per student to allocate to them.”

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