In college there is oftentimes a stereotype tied to students. The “poor college student” is one that struggles to make ends meet while working hard to receive a college education. It turns out, however, that this “stereotype” isn’t a far stretch from reality.
In the past, college was a place that offered higher education solely for people who came from wealthy backgrounds. However, today there are a lot more opportunities for students to go to college with help from scholarships, grants and loans. It is incredible to see the growth in numbers of students continuing their education at the collegiate level. But as tuition rates continue to climb and a faltering economy creates a rocky job market, some students are facing tough decisions—decisions that are affecting their health and nutrition.
Lynda Bachelor, HandsOn Kansas State Coordinator, realized the need that exists among students at Kansas State University. She immediately started making phone calls to find out what could be done so that students wouldn’t have to decide between a healthy meal and a textbook.
“Lynda Bachelor contacted me because the United Methodist Churches in Manhattan have been working with Harvesters for more than a year providing monthly food distributions to people in the Manhattan community,” Larry Fry, Senior Pastor at College Avenue Methodist Church, said.
Some students who experience not being able to afford food feel shame and try to do anything they can so that their secret doesn’t become known. As a result, students are forced to eat cheap food that is low in nutritional value and sometimes even skip meals completely. While there are opportunities for students to go get food from local churches and other food banks, pride sometimes stands in the way-- some refuse to reach out to assistance programs and others even refuse to reach out to their own families for help. Something needed to be done.
On September 10, 2012, HandsOn Kansas State paired with the United Methodist Churches of Manhattan and Harvesters for an event called “Hidden Hunger” that allowed students and community members to receive nutritious food without questions asked.
“As cars entered, volunteers got information about household numbers and ages,” Fry said. “Other than that, no questions were asked because there was no need to prove that they were in need.”
Over 1200 people (96% KSU affiliated) were impacted by the Hidden Hunger event and received containers filled with fresh food items. Students were encouraged to meet out at Bill Snyder Family Stadium for groceries distributed by volunteers throughout the day. This service project allowed students the chance to focus on academic success rather than their grumbling stomachs.
“When kids have to decide between paying for groceries and books, nobody wins,” Bachelor said. “The impact of this service project was that over a thousand individuals avoided that situation.
Hidden Hunger was an eye-opening project that increased awareness about poverty on the K-State campus and helped students to see that they were not alone.
Thank you to HandsOn Kansas State and their community partners for fighting malnutrition on the K-State campus and beyond!
Number of people impacted by Hidden Hunger: 1274
96% KSU affiliated
2% military affiliated
2% other affiliated
Number of volunteers and volunteer leaders: 86