University system addresses student hunger, homelessness

The California State University system has addressed issues of hunger and homelessness, which continues as an ongoing problem for students. The Chancellor’s office has proposed a study to give a better understanding of college students who experience housing instability and food insecurity across all 23 CSU campuses.

“Many campuses already provide homeless and hungry students with resources, but this study will help the CSU do more by developing recommendations,” said public affairs web communications specialist and spokesperson for the university system, Elizabeth Chaplin,  “for serving our students with food and housing insecurity. We want every one of our students to have the opportunity to reach her/his full potential.” 

The one-year project effects will report the current services offered to homeless and food-insecure students for all of the CSU campuses. It will also include all of the data-driven recommendations for the best practices for CSU campuses. The number of students who experience food insecurity is largely undocumented and unknown. 

Sonoma State students gave their opinion on homelessness and the rising costs of college. Though a present issue in higher education, many have yet to meet homeless students.

“I think homelessness is pretty common no matter where you go. The rising in college costs definitely makes it harder for people to attend college,” said Hutchins major, Saphrina Bradshaw. “but at the same time for, every rise in costs there is an increase in scholarships and other financial aids.” 

The number of homeless students is underreported because many students are either unaware of the status description or just not willing to identify themselves as homeless.

“From my understanding, I don’t believe homelessness among college students is common. I’m sure there are cases of homeless in the situation that students cannot support themselves and don’t have support from family and friends,” said English major Hannah Richardson. “With the rising costs of college, it’s more complicated to attend with the burden of student loans tacked onto countless other financial duties.” 

The university system educates the most ethnically, economically and socially diverse student body in the nation. Nearly 338,000 CSU students received financial aid and 77 percent of undergraduate financial aid recipients had their tuition fees fully covered in the 2013-2014 year. One-third of the CSU’s undergraduates are first-generation college students in their families and nearly half are Pell Grant recipients.

Other campuses are currently offering resources for students experiencing food and housing instability.

Chico State has a program, Hungry Wildcat Program, which has helped more than 100 students to prevent hunger since it started in 2012. 

Hornet Proud Fund from Sacramento State helps full-time undergraduate students by reimbursing them up to $1,500 of actual expenses for them experiencing financial crisis due to an unexpected event. 

Humboldt State has a program called Food Cupboard, which helps aid students in need of healthy food.