As students prepare to return to college this week, a survey of 3,460 Minnesota community college students found that 40% of respondents experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days.
The survey found that 3 in 5 Minnesota community college students experienced food insecurity, housing insecurity, or homelessness in the past year, showing that students' basic needs are not being met. With this significant barrier to undergraduates pursuing their credentials, it raises the question of whether colleges are prepared to help students meet their basic needs.
LeadMN President Oballa Oballa stands by the notion that no student should go hungry on campus. "The data shows that Minnesota faces a food insecurity epidemic on our community college campuses. State policy needs to do more to connect students to resources that will help meet their basic needs."
Only a few weeks after the Hunger Free Campus Act went into effect, campuses are encouraged to participate in the program by establishing food delivery systems (like food pantries), creating a hunger task force, holding hunger awareness events, providing information to students on resources such as SNAP, and establishing emergency grants for students. This program acts as a roadmap for colleges to improve their support to students who experience food insecurity.
The report states, "The #RealCollege survey affirms what has been evident to many college administrators, faculty, staff, and students for years: basic needs insecurity is a condition challenging many undergraduates pursuing credentials. The scope of the problem described here is substantial and should be cause for a systemic response."
Austin Daily Herald - Recognition of hunger: Riverland meets state criteria to be designated ‘hunger-free campus’
After winning his LeadMN presidency a couple months ago, Oballa Oballa wasn’t ready to satisfy his appetite for making sure college students statewide were being fed.
Oballa—who served as the former Riverland Community College Student Senate president—has testified multiple times at the state capitol ever since securing his leadership position at LeadMN, advocating for students and mounting pressure on state government officials to address food insecurity on campuses.