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.Tweet