Chloe Kim* lived off SpaghettiOs for two weeks last May. She didn’t have money to buy groceries because her paycheck was delayed that month, so she had to choose between buying food or missing her bill payments. Kim, a 20-year-old college student in Minnesota, found a cardboard box full of 20 SpaghettiOs cans left outside someone’s apartment after they moved out. She took them without question.
Kim is embarrassed about her struggle, which is why she requested to exclude her true last name for this story. And while her story isn’t one she is proud of, it’s a story of food insecurity, which affects college students across the country. Food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability or access to healthy and safe foods, according to the Department of Agriculture. Students are dealing with the burden of choosing between feeding themselves and paying for school, especially as financial aid fails to keep up with rising college costs, according to a report from the College Board.
Students like Kim don’t always talk about food insecurity, even though half of undergraduate students in the United States experience the issue while pursuing their degrees, according to a 2018 report released by the Hope Center for College. A nationwide survey of 43,000 students conducted by Wisconsin HOPE Lab and Temple University also revealed 42 percent of community college students and 36 percent of university students had limited access to safe food.
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