When thinking of college students, the first image that comes to mind is that of the starving college student, barely surviving off of ramen and free food. This imagery is a problem.
The fact that this is what many college students have become or are expected to become should not be the norm.
This is what the Anthropology and Sociology Club (Anth/Soc Club) are trying to fight by hosting Food Insecurity Week.
During the week of Nov. 9 through 13, Anth/Soc Club will be hosting three events and two hashtag campaigns to attempt to raise awareness of food insecurity on the Pacific UniversityCampus.
“We did a survey and found out that there is a lot of [food insecurity] at Pacific’s campus,” said President of the Anth/Soc Club, senior Liz Stevens. “We
wanted to raise awareness because a lot of people don’t realize, even staff and faculty, is that they are very dismissive of the idea that students should be on food stamps and didn’t think that that was okay.”
Two hashtags campaigns are also occurring this week #hungryatpacific and #studentsonsnap, each one with a prize of a $50 gift card to Safeway. The campaigns will last until Friday, Nov. 13.
“The #hungryatpacific is to show what Pacific students are eating because part of the problem with food insecurity in college students is that there is this expectation that you aren’t supposed to eat well or eat enough in college like the ramen diet, but I don’t think people realize how much of a problem that is or how much that affects your ability to succeed in school,” said Stevens. “And so having visuals to show exactly what people are or are not eating for their meals, I think is impactful.”
Last year, the Vice President of Anth/Soc Club, junior Belle Tegner, started a food bank on the Forest Grove campus for her Civic Engagement project.
Although that project is not the main focus of the club currently, the research from that project highlighted the rising levels of food insecurity on college campuses.
According to “Hunger in America,” an article published by Feeding America, a nationwide network of 200 food banks found that approximately 10 percent of their clients are currently students and about 31 percent of households report having to choose between paying for food and paying for their education.
A professional anthropologist who works with food insecurity in latino communities in the United States, Megan Carney, came to campus on Monday, Nov. 9 to give a lecture and to hold a workshop focusing on how research can benefit social movements.
Thursday, Nov. 12, there will be a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) workshop where students will be able to learn about the benefits of having food assistance and will be able to learn how to apply for the program.
“One of the things that came up were that students didn’t know how to apply [for SNAP] or they didn’t know that they were eligible and then the stigma that is around the use of them,” said Stevens. “That is our big goal of the semester is to educate people on the stigmas.”
Education is the overarching goal of Food Insecurity Week.
If students need help, but are shamed out of reaching for those resources, the starving college student image is going to continue to be the most prevalent of collegiate images.
“Hopefully [students] will have a greater understanding of the fact that this is a very real problem and is getting worse not better,” said Stevens. “There are things that should be done about it and hopefully on the individual level there are people who may be struggling with food insecurity on this campus will be more aware of resources they have such as SNAP and how to apply for that.”