William Radmacher is a full-time student at Front Range Community College, president of the sustainability club and an active member of the community garden. To the world, William is just another college student. But, what cannot be seen is what William has been living with since he can remember — hunger.
“There’s been times this year where I haven’t had any money and I’ve lived off of just white rice,” Radmacher said. “You either starve, or you actually accept the fact that you need help.”
Hunger on college campuses is one issue that, for the majority of the country, may remain in the dark nationally and locally. One out of every 10 CSU students, faculty and staff live with food insecurity, said Lauren Mingus, communications manager for the Food Bank for Larimer County. Radmacher struggles with an issue that many CSU students also face.
“Hunger is a sign of much larger societal issues,” Mingus said. “Our society has a real issue addressing people needing help. People are not proud of it and those being affected are kind of silent about it themselves.”
Many people assume that if students can afford to be in college, they can afford to feed themselves. This has led to a misunderstanding of what being food insecure means — defined as a lack of nutritional food. Hunger does not always mean food scarcity, but it does mean the lack of nutrient-rich food the body needs to sustain itself.
“There is definitely a need for food security on campus,” said Jen Rieskamp, program coordinator for CSU’s SLiCE program. “With the way the food system is set up, you can get the most calories out of the food that is the worst for you.”
For the optimal brain function that students need, processed foods do not cut it. But, there is support to help get access to healthy food that the local community provides.
CSU’s Rams Against Hunger program supports students dealing with food insecurity.
“Students love our program,” Jen Johnson, its assistant director, wrote in an e-mail to the Collegian. “Our goal is to provide healthy meals to students experiencing food insecurity. We do this through a mechanism that minimizes shame and maximizes ease/convenience to students.”
The Food Bank for Larimer County is another community resource.
“We welcome students to come use the food bank,” Mingus said, after recalling the gratitude students have expressed for the abundance of food provided at the food bank. Fresh food is top priority for the food bank, which ensures access to fresh produce, bread, eggs and dairy products for their clients.
But, these resources do not supply a solution to hunger.
“I think it’s a challenge because we are keeping people alive, but systemically tomorrow when we get up, we still have the same issue,” Rieskamp said. “I think it’s getting folks involved and being a part of the process through donating, participating and bringing awareness that people are hungry.”
The solution, Mingus said, “is making sure people are aware — that hunger isn’t a hidden issue. We are here to feed people and we are always going to have to exist until these larger societal issues are addressed.”
“You have to think beyond yourself,” Radmacher said. “One of my goals this year is to step it up by bringing more awareness to sustainability and community.”
With 10 percent of Feeding America’s adult clients currently enrolled as full-or part-time students, hunger is affecting more people than society knows about, nationally and locally. And, the solution to combating this issue, according to those involved: awareness.
(Statistics courtesy of FeedingAmerica and Food Bank of Larimer County.)
Collegian Reporter Ashley Haberman can be reached at email@example.com.