New Survey Reveals One-Third of College Students Have Missed a Meal at Least Once a Week Since The Pandemic
In partnership with Chegg, Swipe Out Hunger, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, findings of this new report suggest college students are experiencing increased levels of food insecurity, job loss, and financial stress
One third (34%) of students say they know someone who has dropped out of college due to difficulties affording food.
“We already knew that today’s college students struggle to have their basic needs met. This report makes clear the lengths students have to go through to stay in school and earn their college degree,” said Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger. “No student should ever have to choose between food and their degree.”
A survey commissioned by Chegg.org, the nonprofit arm of Silicon Valley edtech company Chegg, shows that nearly one-third of students (29%) have had to miss a meal at least once a week since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, with juniors and seniors being more likely to have experienced food insecurity than freshmen and sophomores (35% compared to 26%).
“This report shows that many college students are missing meals once a week, many missed out on CARES act funding, and too many do not have access to on-campus food banks,” said Heather Hatlo Porter, Chief Communications Officer of Chegg. “By highlighting these issues, we hope that universities and campuses can consider partnering with organizations like Swipe Out Hunger to wholly support their students, setting them up for success.”
This survey shows that off-campus food banks can be a useful resource for college students. Over half (52%) of students sometimes use off-campus food banks, with 30% having used them at least once a month. Male students find food banks especially resourceful, with over one-third (35%) of them utilizing these banks at least once a month, more so than female students (26%). However, accessibility may explain the gender disparity. Versus their male counterparts, over half of all female students say that their college/university should set up food banks and SNAP/food stamps on their campuses. Additionally, student parents are struggling significantly more than non-parents, with half (49%) saying they’ve experienced food insecurity (versus 27%).
These are among the findings of a nationwide survey of 1,000 currently enrolled US college and high school students between October 28th and November 6th, 2020, conducted by the polling organization Dynata on behalf of Chegg.org and their partners: Swipe Out Hunger and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. These findings are included in the fifth report in Chegg.org’s 2020 State of the Student series, which offers insights into how students are feeling and coping during the COVID pandemic.
The Chegg.org survey also revealed that, while food banks can be a great resource, college students struggle with understanding how to access them and the stigma surrounding their usage. 64% say that there is a stigma attached to foodbank usage despite the fact that many are struggling financially due to the COVID-19. Nearly one-third (32%) of students have been laid off from their job due to the pandemic.
And, while over half (53%) have accessed at least one government benefit during this period, many didn’t understand what resources they had access to. Half of all students (51%) admitted confusion about what was available to them through the CARES Act and other government benefits, with half (51%) of all Black/African-American students being unable to access CARES funds.
With school and college campuses having to consider successful ways to bring students back to campus, the survey revealed what students are looking for from their institutions to address these problems of food insecurity. Considering that more than one-fifth (24%) have needed to take out more loans to cover food costs, college students are calling for their colleges/universities to initiate more affordable measures. More than half of the students say that colleges should be offering cheaper meal plans and lower tuition fees to tackle hunger on campus.
“At Born This Way Foundation, we understand the importance of fostering kind and healthy communities to care for our overall wellbeing. That’s true for each of us, every day, but especially for young people who are more so susceptible to financial and emotional stress,” said Cynthia Germanotta, President & Co-Founder of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. “Together, with Chegg.org we’re doing everything in our power to support the mental and emotional needs of young people as well as their physical wellbeing – and dedicate resources accordingly.”