Inside the Student-Led Anti-Hunger Movement in Florida
This blog is written by David Garner, a sophomore at Florida State University from Gainesville, Florida. Studying Political Science and International Affairs as a member of the FSU Honors Program, David has found a passion for helping people in need. With an interest in law and politics, he is looking to attend law school after graduating from FSU with a focus in international law. When David isn’t advocating for his fellow students, he loves to cook and makes a really good lasagna!
The stereotypical college lifestyle of having no money, studying all day, drinking and eating nothing but ramen and orange juice, has become so normalized in society that people often overlook the serious damage that food insecurity causes. One in three college students experience food insecurity, according to a study conducted by Chegg.org, the Born This Way Foundation, and Swipe Out Hunger. This statistic is a reality to thousands of students in the state of Florida and is only getting worse as food prices climb.
No student should have to choose between buying study materials for class and their next meal. No student should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. No student should have to rely on unhealthy food alternatives. That’s where my team and I come in. I am the External Affairs chair for Florida State University PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), a nonprofit, non-partisan organization focused on fighting student issues on campus. We are proud to be one of the many organizations leading the fight against hunger on college campuses and the anti-hunger movement in Florida, alongside Swipe Out Hunger.
This school year, our team and I have been gathering student testimonials from all across Florida, raising awareness of the prevalence of food insecurity on college campuses, and providing the necessary resources to people experiencing food insecurity. By providing resources and helping students know that they are not alone in their struggle against food insecurity, they become emboldened to share their experiences and become more outspoken on the issue. Making students’ voices heard is so important because we can make genuine change when we all come together to speak out on an issue.
Our team uses our unity and numbers as a strategy to show support and bring momentum to the anti-hunger movement in Florida. A great example of this in action is the Rally in Tally event, where FSU PIRG worked with the Florida Student Association (FSA) to host a lobby day at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee this past January. The FSA is a board of the Student Body Presidents from 12 major public colleges and universities in Florida. On January 26, more than 80 students from FSU PIRG and FSA came up to the Florida Capitol to lobby in support of Swipe Out Hunger’s Hunger Free Campus Bill on behalf of the 47,000 Florida college students. We met with elected senators and representatives to express our support for the Hunger Free Campus Bill. We received support for the bill from numerous elected officials at the Rally in Tally event and built tremendous momentum thanks to our efforts.
Our goal at FSU PIRG is to fight food insecurity in all dimensions and in any way we can, so we continue to fight food insecurity in the community as well. As the External Affairs chair, I look for volunteer opportunities at food distribution events in the community. This current school year, our team consistently volunteers for at least one community food distribution event a month where we help give out food to hundreds of people in need.
Our efforts do not stop there! After volunteering at these events, I was inspired to lead the charge on a PIRG-funded food distribution event. FSU PIRG joined efforts with the PIRGs at Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College to bring together all three colleges in Tallahassee and really show a unified front to combat food insecurity on college campuses and the community. This joint event is a city-wide food distribution event open to all college students and residents in the community in need of food. We are currently in the process of raising $3,000 to fund food items, clothing items, sanitizer items, and more to distribute to 300 students and community residents. We are all very excited for this event on March 11 and we can’t wait to make such a huge impact on students’ lives.
Our FSU PIRG team is doing a great job uniting all of Florida in support of the anti-hunger movement with the help of Swipe Out Hunger. As a result, the anti-hunger movement will continue to make strides in Florida — a key state to watch as things start to unfold!