On April 30, 2019 the Hope Center released the #RealCollege survey. This annual survey is the largest national evaluation of access to affordable food and housing among college students.  Seven LeadMN colleges participated in the survey, which was administered in the fall of 2018. The report titled “College and University Basic Needs Insecurity: A National #RealCollege Survey” includes results from 86,000 students across 123 higher education institutions across the nation.

Highlights of the report

  • 48% of students in two-year institutions who responded to the survey experienced food insecurity within the previous 30 days leading up to the survey.
  • More than 50% of survey respondents from two-year institutions worried about running out of food.
  • Rates of basic needs insecurity are higher in students from historically marginalized backgrounds. The overall rate of food insecurity among students identifying as African American or Black is 58%, which is 19 percentage points higher than the overall rate for students identifying as White or Caucasian.
  • Students who are transgender and students who do not identify as female, male, or transgender have the highest rates of homelessness compared to their male and female peers.
  • Students who experience basic needs insecurity are overwhelmingly part of the labor force. For example, the majority of students who experience food insecurity are employed.
  • Students who reported having a learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, physical disability, chronic illness, or psychological disorder struggle the most with basic needs insecurity.
  • Students who experience food insecurity or homelessness report grades of C or below at slightly higher rates than students who do not have these experiences.

The report also highlights several recommendations for higher education institutions to enact such as:

  • Appoint a Director of Student Wellness and Basic Needs.
  • Promote a culture of caring in all areas of the institution and avoid “isolating basic needs into a single office.”
  • Engage community organizations and the private sector in proactive, rather than reactive, support.
  • Develop and expand an emergency aid program.
  • Ensure that basic needs are central to your government relations work at all levels. This includes increasing the opportunity to enroll students in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The findings of this study further heighten the need for systemic change around addressing basic needs insecurity amongst college students. LeadMN will continue to advocate on this issue as we expand our efforts to reduce food insecurity on our campuses.  We have plans to work with various community partners to connect students to existing resources. You can expect to see SNAP Ed course offerings from us as well as continued advocacy for Hunger Free Campuses.

Stay tuned for our #RealCollege Midwest Convening in January 2020 where we will be partnering with the Hope Center and higher education institutions across the region to take action in addressing food insecurity on our campuses.

How can you get involved?

Visit our Hunger Free Campus page for further reading and resources. For more information about the Hope Center and #RealCollege visit the Hope Center.