Survey: More than 14 percent of NCSU students face hunger, nearly 10 percent face homelessness

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's a problem many of us may not be aware of: hunger and homelessness on college campuses.

An article recently published by a North Carolina State University professor dives deep into the real struggles many students are facing while trying to meet their most basic needs.

In the heart of our state's capital, some 36,000 undergraduate and graduate students are earning degrees at NCSU.

According to a recent article titled Prevalence and correlates of homelessness and food insecurity among university students, published in the Journal of College Student Development, many of those students are staring down hunger and homelessness.

"There's been this idea that university students don't struggle financially or we have the stereotypes of college students who live off of Ramen, which in many situations, that could be food insecurity and we just haven't defined it like that," said Jayna Lennon, student leadership team executive director for Feed the Pack, NCSU's on-campus food pantry.

Lennon said she saw the numbers from Dr. Mary Haskett's 2017-2018 survey of her peers.

"They are shocking," she said. "It's a huge number of students."

The psychology professor found more than 14 percent of students who responded to the survey reported being food insecure in the previous 30 days.

In the previous year, nearly 10 percent said that had no place to sleep for at least one night.

"We knew that our student body was facing these challenges, and that understanding the scope of the problems is a first step toward addressing them," Haskett said.

"The survey has already helped us make a difference," Haskett said. "The survey data provided an impetus for the university to launch several new programs--including small grants and meal "swipes"--to assist students with emergency needs."

Lennon said she's seen the university step up its support of the food pantry, but it's hard to keep shelves stocked and the need for donations is huge.

"If the mission of the university is to educate students and provide an education, you can't do that when basic needs issues exist," said Lennon.

The Feed the Pack food pantry located at Quad Commons is open to university students, faculty and staff, weekdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Donations are accepted in-person and online.
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