At Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, we recognize the critical connection between basic needs security and academic access. We see firsthand the struggles faced by students who are trying to further their education while dealing with food insecurity and other basic needs challenges.

Last week, two articles in the media spotlighted critical issues facing higher education in our state.

The first, an OPB report, reveals that Oregon ranks 44th in the nation for public higher education funding. Without sufficient funding, colleges and universities struggle to keep tuition affordable and offer essential services, from academic advising to mental health support, to on-campus food pantries. 

The second piece, an OregonLive article, highlights the alarming decline in college-going rates in Oregon, which is another red flag. As fewer students pursue higher education, the state faces a dual threat: increased inequity and economic instability. 

“These articles underscore what we are hearing from students every day – the cost of getting a degree is prohibitive, and they aren’t able to access the support they need to continue,” says Chris Baker, Legislative Strategist at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon. “We need to prioritize supporting our students when they are facing crisis. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s also an investment in the future of Oregon.”

Student living expenses associated with the rising cost of tuition have created significant financial obstacles for college and university students in Oregon, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. Across Oregon, college and university students are experiencing increased rates of housing instability, food insecurity, and challenges affording and accessing textbooks, transportation, childcare, and other student basic needs.

Studies indicate that 41% of Oregon’s students struggle with food and basic needs insecurity, with BIPOC students facing hunger at a rate nearly twice that of their white counterparts. Moreover, LGBTQ+, first-generation, undocumented students, and students with children are disproportionately affected by these challenges.

At Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, we believe that every student deserves the opportunity to succeed without the burden of unmet basic needs. Together, we can advocate for the funding, policies, and support systems that will make this vision a reality. Join us as we prepare to advocate for students’ basic needs in Oregon’s 2025 legislative session. 

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