In addition to those recommendations, following the major survey undertaken earlier this year the Hope Centre made several key recommendations for colleges, including:
- Appoint a Director of Student Wellness and Basic Needs
The report specified that this person should have the use of a team staffed with those experienced in case management skills.
- Engage community organisations and the private sector in proactive, rather than reactive, support
Keen to point out that a referral to a food pantry is a crisis response, the report urged colleges to be more proactive and instead refer students to support before they need it and thus avoid a crisis in the first place.
- Develop and expand an emergency aid program
Should a crisis arise, the report states there is ‘no substitute for a quick influx of cash assistance right when students need it’.
Given almost half students surveyed said they had experienced food insecurity, it’s an issue that cannot afford to be ignored any longer. Not only are the impacts damaging to individuals, resulting in negative health outcomes, it’s also bad news for colleges as it also means lower grades and increased dropout rates.
The report accompanying the survey from the Hope Centre stated: “The scope of the problem described here is substantial and should be cause for a systemic response. It is especially important for colleges and universities to move beyond food pantries as they respond to basic needs insecurity on campus.”
While colleges are trying to address the issue with initiatives like food-pantries, food waste apps and dining hall donations, more proactive measures need to be put in place to stop college students having to face food insecurity in the first place.
It will take a lot of time, effort and multifaceted approach but there are several solutions that could help including increasing the uptake of SNAP, supporting the Debt-Free College Act and reducing the stigma around receiving help. Colleges could also make sure they appoint Director of Student Wellness and Basic Need and develop and expand their emergency aid program. Ultimately, if no progress is made any current solutions put forward by colleges will undermined as students are forced to drop out.