A recent survey by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that out of 86,000 students from 123 two-year and four-year colleges and universities across the country, around half of all college students have felt insecure about access to basic needs like food or housing in the last year.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they had been food insecure within the last 30 days, meaning their access to nutritionally adequate and safe food was limited or uncertain.
This is not a new problem at Rogers State University, but one they have continually been fighting against since they established a food pantry on campus in 2012.
“Food insecurity is a quiet issue for a lot of college campuses, but for RSU, where we serve so many students who are Pell-eligible… trying to balance attending college and addressing basic needs … it’s a very real need for a lot of our students,” said RSU Public Relations Director David Hamby.
A majority of RSU students have a total family income less than $50,000 a year.
Around 75 percent of RSU students work more than 30 hours a week while attending school.
“For college campuses across the nation, this is a very real issue,” Hamby said. “Students are trying to manage the cost of attending school while still putting food on the table.”
The pantry is located in the Residential Life Clubhouse, where students have 24-hour access.
The pantry is stocked through canned food drives and private donations by faculty, staff and the community.
“That is a lot of balancing to do between your real-world responsibilities and trying to excel in the classroom,” Hamby said. “By offering a food pantry for our students, it is a stop-gap measure to help them along with that process whenever they do find themselves unable to put food on the table.”