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Food Insecurity Facing More Students as College Expenses Rise

Often, college students are accused of treating their lives on campus like a bubble; one that will pop after graduation when they have to enter the “real world.” That may be true, but plenty of students are facing incredibly challenging “real world” problems while still on campus. One of the most prevalent, and the least studied, is food insecurity.

student eating

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education examined the students at Western Oregon University and found 59 percent of them were food insecure at least once during the previous year. Food insecurity by definition is, “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”

You may be asking yourself how that’s possible with meal plans, food courts, and snack carts dotting most college campuses. The reality is that many students aren’t getting enough healthy food because they struggle with high costs, limited income, and fewer food and social support systems.

The researchers feel the high number of food insecure students is caused by a combination of rising college costs, changing college student demographics, and more low-income and first-generation students attending college.

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Number of Students Who Qualify for Subsidized Meal Programs Is Rising

lunch tray with cafeteria foodsRecently, there has been a surge in the number of American schoolchildren who have made a national list. Sadly, it’s not an academic accomplishment nor an athletic accomplishment. Instead, these 21 million schoolchildren have all qualified for free or low-cost school meals. A few years ago, many of these children came from families who were considered to be middle class, but now, due to the national economic crisis, they are on longer in this socio-economic range after their parents lost their jobs or homes.

Since the 2006-2007 school year, there has been a 17 percent increase in the number of students who qualify for free or low-cost meals. Eleven states, including Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, and Tennessee, have seen increases of 25 percent or more in the past four-years.

“These are very large increases and a direct reflection of the hardships American families are facing,” said Benjamin Senauer, an economists at the University of Minnesota. He also said that this new surge has come about so quickly “that people like myself who do research are struggling to keep up with it.”

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Students at Elizabethtown College Choose to Live on Food Stamps

Blue and White Elizabethtown College LogoCan you imagine what it would be like to only have $4.50 to spend on food for an entire day? I spend that much on my Starbucks coffee in the mornings! There’s no way I could make it last for three whole meals. However, that’s what many people who receive food stamps from the government have to do every single day, and now, students at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania are trying it out through the Fighting Poverty with Faith Food Stamp Challenge.

The challenge is being offered by the Chaplain’s Office of the College and allows students to really understand what it is like to survive on food stamps. They are then encouraged to advocate for the hungry by writing letters to their government officials to increase Food Stamp Assistance programs.

“By stepping into the shoes of someone who lives on food stamps, students experience the difficult decisions many families make every day,” said Amy Shorner-Johnson, the assistant chaplain at Elizabethtown College. “My hope for the Food Stamp Challenge is students go beyond simply being grateful for what they have, toward action and advocacy on behalf of the hungry.”

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Stock Your Kitchen with These College-Kid Essentials

cooking utensilsI loved to cook in high school, when I lived with my parents and their fully-stocked kitchen. However, when I came to college, I did not have a kitchen during my freshman year because I lived in the dorms and ate every single meal in the school cafeteria. After that first year, I move to an unfurnished apartment, and the real world of cooking came back with a vengeance: how does one survive in a kitchen that has absolutely nothing in it besides a stove?

I tried to survive off noodles that we cooked on the stove top in an aluminum pot that I got at a garage sale for $1.50, but that obviously lost its charm in about two days. So I started going to my local store to pick up some of the must-haves for my first kitchen. Here are some of the things that no college-kid-kitchen should go without:

Microwave. Many apartments come with a microwave, but if not, you are going to want one! Maybe you are thinking that you can cook everything in a stove. While this is mostly true, stoves takes much longer to cook your food than a microwave does. For example, a frozen dinner takes about three minutes in a microwave; in an oven, it takes closer to an hour. I don’t know about you, but when I come home from class and am starving, I want my food now, not later.

  1. Measuring cups and spoons. If you are cooking something from scratch, you definitely want to measure how much of each ingredient you are really using. Trust me, a batch of cookies that is accidentally made with a tablespoon of salt tastes much worse than one that is made with the single teaspoon that the recipe calls for.
  2. Read the rest of this entry »


3 Things You Can Do Now to Avoid the Freshman 15

The Freshman Fifteen. We’ve all heard of it. Some of us like to think that it is just another silly rumor about college, but the sad truth is that it does exist, and if you don’t take the necessary steps to avoid it, it will get you. Scary, huh?

When I was in high school, I went to the gym every day for two hours, ate like a rabbit, and took good care of myself. When I went to college for the first time, all of my healthy habits went right out the window and I gained the Freshman 15…and then some. But is there any way to avoid this? Now that I’m way past my freshman year, I have discovered a few tricks of the trade that I will now share with you. You may want to start trying these habits on for size now, so that when your first day of college comes, you’ll be ready for it. Don’t worry, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.
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The $5 a Meal College Cookbook Makes Cooking Cheap and Easy

My parents warned me that when I went to college, I’d have to learn to cook. The week before freshman year, I went to the grocery store with my mom and picked out all of my favorite foods: popcorn, cereal, sandwich stuff, and a few frozen entrees. I moved into my dorm, set up my mini-fridge and microwave…and didn’t cook a single thing all year long. Why would I? I had a meal plan!

Sophomore year was a completely different story. That year, there was no meal plan. I survived off cereal and Pop-Tarts for the first few weeks, then resorted to Taco Bell and McDonald’s dollar menus to stay alive. They were cheap and easy, but not at all nutritious. If only I’d had The $5 a Meal College Cookbook: Good Cheap Food for When You Need to Eat.

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Vegan College Students Should Check Out PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook

College is a time for trying new things. You could do something extreme, like taking up skydiving as a hobby, or maybe something a little less extreme, like adopting a vegan lifestyle.

It doesn’t matter if you have never “gone vegan” before or if you are a life-long vegan, if you are a college vegan, then you should give this cookbook a look. From PETA comes The Vegan College Cookbook: 275 Easy, Cheap, and Delicious Recipes to Keep You Vegan at School.

The Vegan College Cookbook teaches you the basics of being vegan, including how to transform your favorite non-vegan dishes into meatless wonders. For example, did you know that you can make a vegan cake with only two ingredients: cake mix and a can of soda. That’s it: simple, cheap, and vegan. Not bad, huh?

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The Best Study Snacks for Finals Week

Most college students know what finals week really means. It’s not about preparing for weeks in advance and walking into the classroom the day of the test, completely confident that you will earn an “A+”. No, what it’s really about is spending hours upon hours in the library, beating facts into your brain, and surviving off coffee from Starbucks and snacks from vending machines. Not very healthy, and not very good brain food, either.

The food that you eat while studying is actually very important. I bet you didn’t know that your brain uses roughly 20 percent of the daily calories you consume and it needs healthy foods to help function better. Here are some foods that will help your brain function properly, because you want every advantage on test day you can.

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University of Missouri’s Shakespeare’s Pizza Wins Best College Food Contest

There are a few things that are inherent to any college campus: students, books, beer and greasy college grub. Just recently, ABC’s Good Morning America launched a “Best Bites: College Edition” challenge, where students voted for their favorite campus grub. In fact, more than 20,000 people voted for the best college food in America.

The competition was fierce, the food was greasy and Good Morning America’s co-anchor and judge, Ron Claiborne was quite stuffed following his cross country food fest.

Here is a look at the college culinary final four: Read the rest of this entry »



Healthy Breakfast Options for Non-Breakfast Students

healthy-breakfastSomehow this semester, I ended up with classes from 8:30am to 12:30pm, three days a week. I am a morning person, so this isn’t as bad as it sounds, except in one area: my tummy. I used to skip breakfast and have an earlier lunch. However, my new schedule of waiting until 12:30pm or later is killing me. So, I decided to give the experts a chance, who say we should eat breakfast every day, and try making a few breakfasts.

Here are the easiest, healthiest and most portable breakfasts I came up with for non-breakfast-eaters, like myself.

1.    Yogurt with berries. My favorite is red raspberry yogurt, covered with fresh blueberries. There is plenty of protein in yogurt, which keeps you full longer, and carbohydrates, to give you a kick of energy early in the morning. Go for fat-free or Greek yogurt to cut fat and calories.

2.    A hard-boiled egg with toast. This is really convenient because you can take it with you on your commute to classes. The egg white will give you lots of protein, and the yolk will give you fat, both of which do wonders for managing hunger, and the toast will give you the carbohydrates your brain needs for class. Read the rest of this entry »





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