The notion of the “starving college student,” subsisting on ramen noodles and the occasional beer, is a quaint little campus concept that should be long retired — like “co-ed” and panty raids.
Nobody should go hungry in America, certainly not people who are sacrificing to pay ever-increasing tuition in order to build better lives.
Colleges and universities are beginning to recognize that, along with folks who are nontraditional in age and more diverse in every way, the typical student body includes people struggling to make basic ends meet.
It’s encouraging that campuses are responding, in many cases by setting up food banks. Ohio University has taken an extra step, by applying for and receiving permission to accept federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps.
OU students who qualify can use SNAP to buy food at a campus-run grocery. The university also is making an effort to let students who aren’t enrolled in SNAP know that they might qualify.
That sort of proactive approach probably is more important now than in the past, as colleges and universities seek to help and encourage low-income students and adults get college training or degrees.
More campuses should consider qualifying for SNAP spending. Even with financial aid, many low-income students need help to cover expenses. If no on-campus store accepts them, food stamps can’t be much help to a student who doesn’t have a car to drive to the nearest grocery store.
In trying to increase the percentage of low-income and first-generation students who make it to graduation, colleges and universities provide many supports: tutoring, academic advising, help making the social transition to college. If they aren’t already including assistance to those who need food, they should start.