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SNAP, Rams Against Hunger continue to provide for students

SNAP%2C+Rams+Against+Hunger+continue+to+provide+for+students
Collegian | Trin Bonner

Outside of the General Services Building at Colorado State University, students, staff and community members wait to claim their share of grocery items in the Rams Against Hunger food pantry.

The pantry stocks rescued and donated goods accessible to all community members in collaboration with the Food Bank for Larimer County.

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Food insecurity is incredibly common among college students. A study from The Hope Center in 2021 found that 29% of students at four-year colleges experience food insecurity, and national trends for food-insecure college students are on the rise.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students were more likely to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program due to pandemic exemptions that were removed in June 2023. Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement Basic Needs Program Manager Michael Buttram said SNAP requirements are less accessible for students, and the effects of COVID-19 — such as inflation — still remain.

“Rams Against Hunger, as an entity, recognizes that there isn’t one face of food insecurity,” Buttram said. “Everybody is going to have different needs, and everybody is going to have different resources at their disposal.”

With the rollback of pandemic exemptions, CSU Student Case Management Assistant Director Jennie Baran helped students navigate the new requirements regarding their aid.

While many students may not consider themselves food insecure, food insecurity is actually a large part of the idea of the college experience.

“We’ve had this narrative around the starving student for decades,” Baran said. “The idea of living off of inexpensive food for a really long time or, ‘Wherever I can find free pizza, that’s what I’m going to eat’ — that’s been a narrative for decades. And as the cost of attending school continues to rise and the cost of living continues to rise, that narrative is not going away.”

Students face an additional barrier to receiving SNAP benefits because of their courses. To qualify for SNAP, candidates must work 20 hours a week, and for full-time students, that can be difficult to achieve, said Fatima Castillo, SNAP outreach coordinator.

“Having to pay for whatever bills they have, having to take care of themselves and then obviously go to school at the same time, I feel for them,” Castillo said. “It’s very difficult to be able to do that all at the same time, so (it’s good for) them being able to come here to the food bank and just get some more access to more options and to be able to have food.”

While not all students who are food insecure will qualify for SNAP, all students are welcome at the food bank or welcome to use the pocket pantries that RAH provides around campus, Buttram said.

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“What I hear mostly is, ‘Oh, I don’t want to take it from somebody who needs it more,'” Buttram said. “What I want to stress to that person is we have enough for you and the person who needs it more. And we do so because we’re a food rescue operation. And we’re using the resources that exist, and we’re just being better about being stewards with these resources.”

Being better stewards means helping to reduce food waste and operating as a partner of Feeding America and the Food Bank for Larimer County in order to broaden the pantries’ reach and community impact.

While access to resources to combat food insecurity is essential, Associated Students of CSU Director of Health and Wellness Jorja Whyte said she also wants to address the stigma around food insecurity and work toward long-term solutions for students.

“I think there’s a huge component of ageism here,” Whyte said. “There’s this expectation for college students and college-age people that you should be hungry.”

Housing insecurity, food insecurity and financial insecurity all go hand in hand. RAH meets students where they are at while bigger issues of tuition and systemic problems are addressed.

“What we’re doing is, to some degree, Band-Aid work,” Buttram said. “But it’s a necessary Band-Aid while we address the root causes as a society.”

Beyond concerns of food insecurity, students are faced with learning how to feed themselves and how to function in the adult world.

“I think it’s important for students to think of that in terms of the learning that happens outside of the classroom,” Baran said. “This is about life learning, right? This is how you learn to pay all your bills and do your laundry on time and feed yourself right.”

Reach Ivy Secrest at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.

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About the Contributors
Ivy Secrest
Ivy Secrest, Content Managing Editor
Ivy Secrest is The Collegian's content managing editor. Secrest uses she/her/hers pronouns and has worked for The Collegian previously as a reporter and as life and culture director for the 2022-23 academic year. As a senior in the journalism and media communications department, Secrest enjoys reporting on environmental and social issues with a special interest in science communication. She is president of the Science Communication Club and is pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability with hopes of utilizing her education in her career. Growing up in Denver, Secrest developed a deep love for the outdoors. She could happily spend the rest of her life hiking alpine environments, jumping into lakes, taking photos of the wildflowers and listening to folk music. She's passionate about skiing, hiking, dancing, painting, writing poetry and camping. Secrest's passions spurred her career in journalism, helping her reach out to her community and get involved in topics that students and residents of Fort Collins truly care about. She has taken every opportunity to connect with the communities she has reported in and has written for several of the desks at The Collegian, including news, life and culture, cannabis, arts and entertainment and opinion. She uses her connections with the community to inform both managerial and editorial decisions with hopes that the publication serves as a true reflection of the student body's interests and concerns. Secrest is an advocate of community-centered journalism, believing in the importance of fostering meaningful dialogue between press and community.
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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