Oh good gravy, here we go again. According to CNN, now we have a hunger problem on college campuses. Come to the intersection of the holidays and a politically disapproved election result, and the consternation industry cranks up the furnace. A silly emotionalist at CNN has run with a claim by a student at Montclair State University that some of her classmates going hungry represents an emptier kitchen at large. “Even if you don’t hear about hunger being a problem, there’s probably a population on campus in need,” said Megan Breitenbach, a student who volunteers at Montclair State’s pantry. Little Megan has already learned the first rule for getting/producing a CNN interview: take a limited observation, however dubious, and assert that this obviously confirms a larger problem. Montclair State opened a food pantry “after administrators started hearing from students who said they were hungry and didn’t have enough money for food. They surveyed students, finding that more than half said they or someone they know experiences “food insecurity” — the lack of access to affordable, nutritious food.”

Over the past few spring, summer, and winter breaks I’ve had several housefuls of college students, and the full garbage cans and grocery bills will attest that they were indeed hungry. And yes, some of them were broke, and talked about worries for employment after college, which might make one feel insecure, and they were always happy for some extra grocery money for the trip home. But none of them were starving, they never once used the word “nutritious”, and a couple of them were even sort of chubby. So is my personal observation as statistically credible as the Montclair student’s? On one day the author described 33 students – or 0.15% of the student body – visiting for food staples and toilet items. The author notes that tuition costs have risen 3% faster than median income over the last five years; that 398 institutions participate in the College and University Food Bank Alliance; that 48% of the 3,000 students surveyed experienced food insecurity in the last month (the government says that 14% of households nationwide experience food insecurity every year). All of which proves…crickets. The silly writer does not prove that there is hunger, only that some students may worry, and that like the locusts they are, students are going to flock to the free stuff. There might be some hungry college kids, but there is no evidence of a widespread “hunger problem on America’s college campuses.”

“‘Do I think there’s always been a need? I would say yes. But students are being more vocal about it,’ said Fatima deCarvalho, the Associate Dean of Students at Montclair State.” Oh I bet they are.

“As word has spread, more students are using the pantry.” And the more leftover barbeque I have to throw out after a party, the more likely it is that a bear will hit the trash can (which, they actually do where I live).

But surely hunger is a problem on campus, right? Five years ago, the CDC said that 5.2 million college students were obese. “The percent of overweight and obese American college students increased from 27.4 percent in fall 2006 to 29.2 percent in fall 2011, according to the American College Health Association.”

Which means that if we accept the CNN claim of 48% hungry college students and the ACHA number of 29% undergraduate-but-overweight, we get about 23% that are being well-, but not too much fed. So less than one third of college students are okay in the food department? There are enough real problems to tackle without expending finite compassion on manufactured CNN hysterics. Next thing you know, they’ll be demanding free birth control.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  7 comments for “MASS STARVATION ON CAMPUS !! by Pat Conrad MD

  1. Sarah
    December 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I love this blog, but let’s not be stupid here…All of us know that our poorest patients are also the fattest. Why pay $3 for an apple when that buys you a Happy Meal? Your ignorance is showing. You must be very, very old to not understand that obesity, poverty and malnutrition go hand-in-hand.

  2. Hawgguy
    December 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    With a change in administration it is safe to predict more news stories about:
    Unemployemnt, Inflation, Hunger, Homelessness, dogs & cats living together.

  3. john parkin
    December 14, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Hopefully they still have enough $$ for beer.

  4. Randy
    December 14, 2016 at 11:25 am

    According to the Montclair State website about a third of students live on campus and a meal plan is included. Since presumably they aren’t experiencing food insecurity that would mean 72% of the students living off-campus are going hungry, if the 48% overall figure is to be believed.

  5. HJR
    December 14, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I’ll never forget the time I was watching TV and they had a spot about childhood obesity in the US and then immediately after had another spot about childhood hunger in the US.

  6. Steve O'
    December 14, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Thumbs-up, CNN, for trivializing serious concerns. You know, my nephew is very seriously ill. Except he doesn’t have anything wrong with him, or is on any prescription medicine or anything. But he is “healthcare insecure,” or was, until he signed up with Obamacare. A miracle! (?)
    As for hunger, you simply can’t beat this Point/Counterpoint:

  7. Thomas Guastavino
    December 14, 2016 at 6:33 am

    So CNN continues with its desperate attempts at relevancy? CNN has stood for “certainly nothing new” for some time now.

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