We believe that every college student has the right to be free from hunger,houselessness, and financial distress. Hunger-Free Campuses centers theexperiences of students to make changes that will ensure all students have theresources and financial support they need to achieve their dreams.

Donate

HOW WE GOT HERE

Our college hunger work began in January of 2018 when a student from the University of Oregon reached out to us asking for support. We did some research, reached out to other students and college campuses, and together, with the Oregon Hunger Task Force, we held a Listening Session: Hunger and Food Insecurity on College Campuses in Oregon at the University of Oregon.  

As advocates, we work closely with Oregon’s Department of Human Services to ensure that everyone has access to federal nutrition programs. In July of 2019, Oregon’s Department of Human Services reinterpreted the federal language for college student eligibility which allowed access to SNAP benefits for thousands of Oregon’s college students. Since then, we have been connecting with college students and staff from all across the state to provide SNAP Outreach and Technical Training on college campuses. While this work is important to us, it is also very real for us, and we know that just providing food pantries and SNAP benefits to students isn’t going to solve food insecurity – so we created the Hunger-Free Campuses campaign


CAMPAIGN OVERVIEW

The Hunger-Free Campuses campaign includes three primary strategies. With these strategies we aim to collectively advocate for state-level changes that end hunger and basic need insecurities for Oregon college students.

  1. Outreach: SNAP outreach, technical assistance, and coordination with Oregon community colleges and public universities

  2. Engagement with students and stakeholders to develop policy solutions

  3. Advocacy for policy improvements that center the experiences of college students.


CREATING POLICY SOLUTIONS

In January and February of 2020, the Hunger-Free Campuses Team, with support from the Oregon Student Association, conducted a series of on-campus listening circles and shared an online survey statewide. We asked students to share feedback about their experiences in navigating food and basic needs insecurities while attending college, and we asked them to share with us what a Hunger Free Campus would look like to them. We heard from 197 college students across 11 public colleges and universities in Oregon. Here is what we heard:


71% of students indicated they had experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months

 20% of students identified as being housing insecure in the last 12 months


Choosing between rent or food is a very real thing.

The cost of attending school (tuition, books, etc), the cost of housing, cost of living (bills, etc), cost of childcare, and the cost of food all present barriers to succeeding in school.

“I personally cannot afford to buy groceries because I have rent, tuition and other bills to pay.” (Portland State University, survey respondent)

“It’s overwhelming.  I got to work and I bust my ass until 1, 2 in the morning, come to school at 7 in the morning.  I’m just working so I can pay for my food and be alright.  It’s never good enough.  I’m always drifting.” (Lane Community College, listening circle participant)

Making ends meet is exhausting.

Many students have to work 20 or more hours per week just to afford tuition, housing, and to pay their bills.

Today’s college students look very different than in the past.

Many of today’s college students are also parents, or work full time, and juggle many responsibilities.

“Being a single mom with sole custody of two teenagers, attending college full time, and working part time is a tremendous load. I struggle to make ends meet every month. The physical toll of being under this amount of pressure is a lot. I make $100 [over the limit] to qualify for SNAP. […] It shouldn’t be this much of a struggle to meet our basic human needs.” (Portland State University, survey respondent)

“My situation is dark. I sleep in a tent. I had to download the city ordinance of where we’re allowed to put them up. […] They can literally say ‘this is an eyesore, you have 24 hours to move’.” (Portland Community College, respondent)

Housing insecurity is a crisis for college students.

Not all college students live in dorms, or with their parents, or even have a roof over their head.

You can’t be successful on an empty stomach.

“When I’m not getting enough nutrients into my body, I’m more likely to not feel energized to go to class.  So, if I do go to class, I’m not learning anything. If I stay home, I’m being penalized for not going even though it’s the same result.” (Western Oregon University, listening circle participant)

“Even if you do know when or where [to go], all the paperwork and legalities can be really confusing and overwhelming. Every different service has different requirements.”  (Linn-Benton Community College, listening circle participant)

Students need more support.

There are inadequate basic needs programming, outreach and support systems on campuses. 

Nothing for us, without us.

Students should be centered in decision making processes.

“What we want from the administrators and the legislators is that they listen and understand us and take action.” (Western Oregon University, listening circle participant)

Meet the Team

What’s unique about our team? This work is led by those with direct lived experience and centered on student voices and experiences. All three of us have lived experience of food insecurity. Both Venus and Chris experienced food insecurity as single-parent college students. 

Want to do outreach on your campus?

Our SNAP College Toolkit has the resources you need to start or continue outreach on your college campus.

Learn more

Join Us in Ending Hunger

Join Us in Ending Hunger

Together, we can end hunger in Oregon
Donate Today