The new essay collection Food Insecurity on College Campuses edited by Katharine M. Broton and Clare L. Cady explores the widespread problem of food insecurity among college students and the overlapping and compounding issues that lead students to choose between getting enough to eat and paying the costs of a college education. As the editors make clear in the introduction to the collection, today’s college student has changed significantly from the expected “young adult, attending college full-time immediately after high school,” and the economic landscape they are dealing with is far different from what many administrators and faculty assume. Students are more likely to delay college or enter as part-time students while taking care of families or working.
The essays throughout the collection describe students’ barriers to graduation as interlocking and compounding, and none of them academic. In the example of “Amarillo College: Loving Your Student from Enrollment to Graduation,” the authors concluded the top 10 reasons that students failed to complete their degrees were all financial in nature, not related to academic preparedness or ability to learn. Michael Rosen‘s essay reveals that even very small amounts of money for textbooks, car repairs, security deposits, utilities, and lab fees may derail students. The essays in the collection describe a wide range of solutions that have been tested in a variety of institutions and locations. to food insecurity from food pantries and partnerships with campus dining services to wrap-around services with social workers and emergency financial support. The editors acknowledge that supplying students with food may temporarily provide them with a meal, but these do not solve the ongoing problems of poverty. Throughout the collection, authors point time and again to the need to direct students to multiple services and resources, not just food or a check. Without significant reform in the structural inequities that keep people in poverty, these are all stop-gap measures.
Katherine Broton is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies and (by courtesy) the Department of Sociology at the University of Iowa.
Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature. Her 2018 book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Gastronomica, Food and Foodways, American Studies, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society.
Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she teaches courses in American Literature.