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  • Writer's pictureSloane Jacobs

California’s College Students Fight Food Insecurity

Over eight million Californians fight the brutal battle against food insecurity. Whether someone is struggling to find nutritious foods to live an energy-fueled lifestyle or accessing any food without financial burden, food insecurity is a violent and impactful force.

The residents of California come from several varying socioeconomic backgrounds, enough so that five dollars can either be burned or cherished. The gap created by income inequality has drastically widened. California has become too expensive.

The effects of the high cost of living have become striking to college students residing within the state. The combination of tuition and housing costs has created a downward spiral of debt and sacrifice that students and parents must suffer from. Many universities approach their students with hesitance to provide extra financial assistance and instead promote taking out loans.

With hefty annual student bills in the tens of thousands, many feel lost and unsure about the ability to proceed. Students have resorted to applying and using aid from federal programs to increase their quality of life. One program that assists students greatly in the fight against food insecurity is Calfresh.

CalFresh is a federally funded program that assists low-income individuals and families by providing a monthly balance to help attain a proper and sustainable diet. Many individuals rely on CalFresh’s EBT funding to get through the month, as without it, they might succumb to starvation.

CalFresh can be a beacon of light for those aware and educated on the possibilities it may provide.

A third-year student at Mount Saint Mary’s University who does not want to be identified explains how getting approved for CalFresh has improved her way of life. “CalFresh has allowed me to focus on my education and professional development without fearing food insecurity. I am able to purchase nutritious foods that help me stay energized throughout the semester.” She continues her studies as a rising senior who intends to renew CalFresh benefits continually.

This process is made possible by county workers reviewing applications and going through interviews to ensure those needing assistance can receive funding. There are several brackets concerning family size and income to ensure people understand the program’s qualifying markers.

Fighting for a better quality of life begins with awareness provided by those who work under the CalFresh umbrella. Alison Halpern, Associate Director of Wellness at Mount Saint Mary’s University, supervises the CalFresh division that student workers lead. She shares, “Today’s college student isn’t the picture of privilege that students in the past may have been. Most receive some form of financial aid, work at least one job, and have responsibilities within their families. The reality is many college students struggle to afford enough food. CalFresh is a wonderful resource for students experiencing food insecurity.”

Although it is disheartening that many college students are in a challenging monetary position, CalFresh is impactful statewide and leaves its mark on students struggling to get by.

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