“Without a home and without meals, I felt like an impostor,” Ms. Evans told us. “I was shamefully worrying about food, and shamefully staring at the clock to make it out of class in time to get in line for the local shelter when I should have been giving my undivided attention to the lecturer.” When this is what college is like, is it any wonder that students drop out?
More than 10.5 million students attend community colleges. Nearly all of these institutions welcome anyone who seeks to take their courses, fulfilling their mission of providing opportunities regardless of family background. But community college is not free. In order to enroll and focus on learning, students have to pay for books and supplies, transportation, health care and clothes, lodging and food, in addition to tuition and fees. After grants and scholarships are applied to reduce those costs, students like Ms. Evans, who are more likely to qualify for maximum support because their parents earn less than $30,000 a year, still face an average out-of-pocket price of more than $8,000. Even with student loans, they fall short.
By 2020, about two-thirds of all jobs will require education and training beyond high school. If current trends hold, the United States will face a shortfall of five million college-educated workers that year. This problem won’t be solved if we don’t ensure that students have their basic needs met so that they can manage their schoolwork and finish their degrees.
The College and University Food Bank Alliance helps institutions set up and maintain food pantries, and Scholarship America’s Dreamkeepers program, along with some college foundations, supports efforts to provide emergency financial aid and counseling. Ms. Evans is back in college now, benefiting from these types of assistance. Single Stop helps community college students use all of the possible social benefits programs to which they are entitled. It also counsels them on how to manage their finances. Programs like these need to be quickly scaled up to alleviate the crisis.
But we will have to do much more to ensure that this problem doesn’t get worse. This will require changing both our social and educational policies, while also reducing college costs. To give one example, the National School Lunch Program supports schoolchildren but not college students. Subsidized housing and transportation are often available when a student is in high school but not once he enters college. Even if the students are technically adults, this is shortsighted thinking.
From President Obama on down, our political leaders are urging people to do the right thing and stay in college. Students are trying — so hard that they sometimes go hungry to learn. When will we match their level of determination? A college education is a great tool for overcoming poverty, but students have to be able to escape the conditions of poverty long enough to finish their degrees or we’re wasting their time.Continue reading the main story
In a recent study of hunger on college campuses, 56% of Bunker Hill Community College students indicated that they were moderately food insecure.
- 52% indicated that the food they bought just didn’t last and they didn’t have enough money to get more.
- 60% indicated that they couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals.
- 45% have cut the size of their meals or skip meals because there wasn’t enough money for food.
On Friday, May 5, 2017 Bunker Hill Community College hosted representatives from colleges and community partners from across the state for a convening on hunger on our college campuses. Sponsored by the Bunker Hill Community College Foundation, the program features keynote speaker Sara Goldrick-Rab, author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream, along with survey results of a national hunger study completed on college campuses and an interactive discussion of who is hungry, what resources are available and how we can do more. The materials on this page helped to shape the discussion.
Sara Goldrick-Rab, Ph.D., is Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University and Founder of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s only transnational research laboratory seeking ways to make college more affordable. She is the recipient of the William T. Grant Foundation’s Faculty Scholars Award and the American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award, and in 2016 POLITICO magazine named her one of the top 50 people shaping American politics. Her latest book, Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream is an Amazon best-seller, and has been featured on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” The New York Review of Books and CSPAN’s Book TV, among other venues.
Wisconsin Hope Lab Study
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab produced “Hungry and Homeless in College,” a groundbreaking report assessing rates of food and housing insecurity among students at more than 70 community colleges across the United States.
Are your students’ basic needs secure? How do you know?
Surveys shape the national conversation about students’ basic needs and the challenges we face in improving college retention. This fall the Wisconsin HOPE Lab is inviting colleges and universities, regardless of sector or type, to participate. To join, email Anthony Hernandez at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab by Thursday, June 1, 2017, at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “FALL SURVEY”.
Read more about the report at on Medium.com.
Review the Wisconsin HOPE Lab’s “Guide to Assessing Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education" to learn more about conducting surveys and evaluations on college campuses.
Bunker Hill Community College Foudation
The Bunker Hill Community College Foundation, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) organization established in 1986. Its mission is to obtain resources to support the College, thereby enabling students with diverse educational, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to benefit from a high-quality, affordable, post-secondary education.
The Foundation is led by a highly dedicated Board of Directors drawn from leading retail, construction, hospitality, investment and insurance firms as well as civic organizations in the Boston area. They are committed to advancing the mission of the College and work to secure private contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations through personal solicitations, grant applications and fundraising events.
The Foundation solicits and accepts contributions, manages and invests its various endowments and financial resources and provides funding for scholarships and student support services, including emergency assistance. All gifts to Bunker Hill Community College Foundation are tax deductible to the extent approved by law. Visit bhcc.edu/foundation to learn more.
Massachusetts Campus Compact
Massachusetts Campus Compact, a nonprofit coalition of more than 60 colleges and universities, provides tools and resources to enable our member campuses to engage effectively on issues that matter to communities within and beyond the campus. We help colleges and universities fulfill their public purposes–educating students for lives of citizenship and working through partnerships to meet the challenges affecting local, state, national and global communities.
While civic engagement traditionally looks at the issue of hunger outside of the institution, we believe that these initiatives can look inward to the campus community to support work addressing issues of campus food insecurity and supporting student retention. On issues such as food insecurity, MACC works with our member institutions to share knowledge and develop a collective capacity to resolve issues affecting student success and engagement. Visit ccsne.compact.org/campushunger or compact.org/resource-posts/supporting-retention-through-food-and-housing-security to learn more.
Food for Free
Food for Free rescues fresh food–food that might otherwise go to waste–and distributes it within the local emergency food system where it can reach those in need. Visit foodforfree.org to learn more.
Food Link gathers leftover bread items from area businesses like Panera Bread, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for students to receive from the Single Stop office and take home with them. Visit foodlinkma.org to learn more.
The Greater Boston Food Bank
The Greater Boston Food Bank provides a monthly mobile market food pantry on campus that provides fresh produce and other pantry items. Visit gbfb.org to learn more.
In the News
Students Without Food
August 1, 2017
By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for Inside Higher Ed
Some community college students have struggled with access to food -- a previously documented trend that has now been quantified on a national scale in a new report released Tuesday.
Wick Sloane, an Inside Higher Ed columnist who also teaches at Bunker Hill Community College, said in an interview he appreciates these sorts of studies because they reflect the problems he and his colleagues see on college campuses.
June 2017: ACCT Now Perspectives "Food for Thought"
By Pam Eddinger
When I started community college work 25 years ago, I never would have predicted that hunger and homelessness would be barriers to a college education. For the last decade, despite the difficulties we have faced as community college educators, the way forward has been defined, if complex...
On Friday, May 5, representatives from colleges and community organizations from across the state joined Bunker Hill Community College to discuss a very real, very ugly, very urgent issue. Voices of Hunger on Campus, a first-time gathering of Massachusetts educators and community activists concerned about food insecurity and homelessness on college campuses, brought together leaders to address how that deprivation is affecting learning and student achievement, share approaches for helping students gain access to vital resources, forge meaningful partnerships between institutions and community partners to address these issues, and create a plan to implement institutional, and policy changes to achieve better outcomes for students.
March 20, 2017: Schools Programs Keep Hunger and Homelessness From Derailing Local Students
By Jordan Frias for SCN
Bunker Hill Community College student Michael Curran knows what it’s like to be homeless and struggling in school.
Curran, 28, of Medford, is among the many students who rely on the college’s Single Stop program for food and other resources to get by in life and in school.
March 15, 2017: Hungry and Unable to Complete
By Ashley A. Smith for Inside Higher Ed
Community colleges that want students to graduate increasingly focus not just on academic needs, but on transportation, housing and food issues.
At Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, the institution is piloting a food voucher program that gives 100 low-income students $7 a day to purchase food from the institution’s cafeteria.
March 10, 2017: Make History
By Wick Sloan for Inside Higher Ed
To: All 2,000 delegates at this weekend's annual meeting of the American Council on Education
Your assignment for this annual meeting: make history for low-income students…
Pam Y. Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College, is advocating against student hunger with Goldrick-Rab, and sees every day both the benefits of proving food and the costs of student hunger.
February 23, 2017: Examining food insecurity
By Daily Community College
A handful of Democratic senators want the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study on food insecurity at U.S. colleges and universities.
For some of our students, it is a daily struggle to decide whether to spend their last dollars on food or on the subway to get to class,” said Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College, which hosts a mobile food pantry every month.
February 9, 2017: Homeless College Students Rate Rises Due To Hunger And School Fees, May Not See Graduation
By Amanda Foster for University Herald
America continues to struggle with the rising cost of higher education. As the cost of college and university fees and tuition grows, the number of homeless students also grows.
In Boston, the Bunker Hill Community College is just one of the 25 food assistance programs in Massachusetts public college campuses.