Are College Students Really “Food Insecure?”




Apparently college students are so poor that they cannot afford food and are therefore “food insecure”. Or at least that’s what the Washington Post wants us to believe. Now I must admit that I do not have my own research and data to dispute them in an empirical manner, but I am still very suspicious of their claims.

For one, it points to a survey saying that 59% of students at Western Oregon University have experienced food insecurity. Thats a very high number. I know college students are poor, but to have well over half of them struggle to buy food seems awfully odd to me considering that we are simultaneously told that the vast majority of college kids drink too much (who pays for that?) and that our population as a whole is much too fat (to put it bluntly). The article mentions that students are often “too proud” to ask their parents or charities for help affording food. I understand that some kids have legitimate reasons why they want to not interact with their parents- perhaps a history of violence or abuse, and I understand not wanting to use private charity. But if our society has eroded to the point where we can’t expect families to help each other and therefore we need government to step in (undoubtably many reading this article will say “lets give all college kids food stamps!”) we have big problems as a country. And as for being too proud for private charity I understand this feeling, but I doubt these same students wouldn’t think twice about accepting food stamps from the government paid for by taxpayers. I remember seeing one past Facebook acquaintance who would put up lots of pictures of alcohol abundant parties and vacations on the beach, but between these pictures he once posted a status bragging that he was eligible to receive food stamps and would promptly take advantage of them. 

Now I do not think that all is well in food in America. We have agricultural subsidies that get paid out to big agribusiness that distort food markets and we have mindless ethanol mandates that actually have the effect of polluting the environment more, raising food prices by turing corn into fuel rather than food, and enriching politically connected businesses at the expense of taxpayers. Naturally these mandates were put in place to save the environment. But what else would you expect from big government “solving” our problems?

As for food stamps, undoubtably there are people in our society that truly need help affording food and we ought to help them. Private charity may not be able to help everyone in need and I personally don’t have an issue using modest government programs to pick up the slack. This is mostly because I believe that the slack ought to be very small. But today we spend billions more on SNAP (food stamps) than we did in the days of Bill Clinton. Part of this is because the Great Recession, but even during our current slow but nonetheless existent recovery the numbers of people enrolled in SNAP continue to increase. Why would an improving economy lead to MORE people struggling to afford food? Something tells me that SNAP is reaching more than just the ones who truly need help…

Of course the big tragedy of this situation is that as we spend more and more on government entitlements and welfare programs and move closer and closer to the cliff of fiscal disaster, we endanger the future of these programs that are desperately needed by the least fortunate in our society. We need to be fiscally responsible today so that we can be compassionate tomorrow.



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