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REPORT: The Hope Center: #RealCollege 2019: Five Years of Evidence on Campus Basic Needs Insecurity

R&D Lab: Resource Hub

Today, the Hope Center released its annual #RealCollege report, which culminated in five years of data on campus basic needs insecurity. As the leading research center on the higher education basic needs movement, the Hope Center report marks a significant moment in the movement to strengthen college students’ basic needs.

One of the most compelling findings: data on how students experiencing food insecurity, housing insecurity, and homelessness used on-campus supports:

The number of on-campus supports being offered is increasing, but that does not yet mean that more students accessing those resources.

– Noah, college senior

This challenges the higher education community to not only provide supportive resources, but to be more thoughtful about promotion and accessibility of available resources. Through our work at Swipe Out Hunger, we know the difference it makes to involve students in the process of designing and implementing food security programs (as evident in our 2019 Impact Report, 50% of students found out about the program from friends on campus). With this report, the movement is charged with ensuring the resources it fought so long to implement can seamlessly be accessed by students.

In addition, the Hope Center recommended the following guidance for institutions working to strengthen basic needs on campus:

– Assess the landscape of existing supports on campus, including food pantries, emergency aid programs, access to public benefits, and case managers
– Encourage faculty to add a basic needs security statement to their syllabus to inform themselves and their students of supports
– Support efforts to expand SNAP access, apply for federal support for those efforts, and work to accept EBT on campus. Encourage your legislature to pursue Hunger-Free Campus legislation as California and New Jersey have
– Create a basic needs website listing supports for SNAP, emergency aid, free food programs, etc.
– Consider centralizing fundraising for and distribution of emergency aid across institutions
– Convene stakeholders to discuss current business model for meal plans and whether the approach might be shifted to enhance retention rather than undermine it, including the consideration of a Swipe Out Hunger program

If you’re an institution looking to make change on your campus, take the next step to support your students by taking the #RealCollege Partner Questionnaire.

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