College students everywhere, from Ivy League universities to community colleges, have become all too familiar with what some would call the ramen noodle diet. This diet, although completely taboo to talk about, is characterized by reduced quality or quantity of food, or anxiety about where the next meal will come from. About 15% of US households display qualities of food insecurity, and the percentage is nearly doubled (38%) when the focus in on college students alone. In addition to severe physical, emotional, and social consequences, food insecurity among students leads to poorer concentration and memory, significantly worse academic performance, and increased risk of dropping out.
Starting this year, Cal Poly has teamed up with 10 other California State Universities to address the problem of food insecurity. Our university is now part of a major statewide CalFresh Outreach (CFO) project among students on college campuses. The ultimate goal is to ensure student success by helping them stay well nourished throughout their college years. Through this project, eligible students who sign up and apply for CalFresh will be given a debit card that can only be used to by food items to provide them with good health and nutrition.
Even if you are working, or own a house, or a car; you may be eligible for CalFresh benefits to help pay some of your food expenses. Through monthly food benefits, students receive better access to fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables, which can improve food security and overall health and potentially lower the likelihood of nutrition-related diseases. Farmers see increased sales, which improves the viability of farming and may keep land in agricultural use for fresh and local produce production. In addition, our community’s social fabric is strengthened as county residents from all backgrounds interact and shop together.
The Next Step
If you are interested in applying for CalFresh benefits or if you would like to hear more information about the project, please come by Campus Health & Wellbeing (Building 27-173B) on Mondays from 12:00-4:00pm. For any additional questions, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org by email or (805) 399-0236 by phone.