The U.S. economy, despite rosy characterizations by President Obama recently, is still abysmal for far too many Americans who are still struggling to make ends meet, put food on the table and remain in their homes — a condition that will only worsen with the president’s recent executive amnesty, “legalizing” millions of illegal aliens.
Some of the country’s historically poor states — many of them in the South — have been especially hard-hit, as a recent report from Kentucky points out. Local station WKYT in Lexington says that not only has hunger remained a “huge issue” in the state — one food pantry says one-in-seven Kentuckians are receiving food assistance from any number of charities — but it is even a problem on the state’s college campuses.
“Recently, two food pantries opened in a place you might not expect, a college campus[.] As WKYT’s Amber Philpott found out the rising cost of getting an education is causing some college students to go hungry,” the station’s news team reported.
Campus food banks helping feed students within days of opening
One such charity is called God’s Pantry Food Bank, and increasingly the establishment is seeing its clientele rise.
“Here in Kentucky God’s Pantry Food Bank is currently reaching out to 190,000 unique individuals annually in the 50 counties that we serve,” Marian Guinn, CEO at God’s Pantry Food Bank, told the local station.
What’s more, you can no longer stereotype those who are hungry; it is now a phenomenon in all walks of life.
That includes institutions of higher learning — even the University of Kentucky (UK) — as well as Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in Richmond. Rising tuition costs — also a worsening problem — coupled with fewer job opportunities, has led to more and more students seeking out help to provide for their food needs.
“What happens is they make that large sum payment for tuition, room and board and there is not much money left over for the other essentials to be here,” Dr. Mike Reagle, Associate VP for Campus Life at EKU, told WKYT.
Reagle went on to say that studies are indicating that one in six students attending EKU have most likely gone hungry at some point. So, in October, the Colonel Cupboard, another food bank, opened to try to lower that statistic.
“Often times we will get a referral about a student and we will then contact that student and just ask if this is something we can help them with,” said Reagle.
The Colonel Cupboard is stocked 100 percent via donations from several student groups as well as faculty members. Students who are in need of food support are given a food box containing six to 10 meals and already, in its first few weeks, the pantry has helped more than 20 students.
“It’s really rewarding knowing that you are helping someone with such a basic need and that basic need of food will help better themselves,” EKU Junior Erin Leet told the local news team.
Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky opened its Big Blue Pantry to address the issue of student hunger. The food bank opened in August, at the start of the current semester, and is unfortunately staying busy.
“We are seeing on average 30 people a week, Thursdays are our busiest day,” Manning Kulis, a UK Junior who works at the pantry, said.
‘I was surprised by the breadth of the problem’
WKYT further reported:
What UK and EKU are doing is part of a growing trend across the country on college campuses. A study from Michigan State found the number of food banks for students jumped from four in 2008 to 121 this year.
Food banks like the Big Blue Pantry are a result of faculty listening and realizing students need help.
“I know that I have worked with students who tell me that they are getting by on $19 a week for all their food. That’s absolutely everything, going to the supermarket once and that’s all they eat. They don’t go out to eat,” UK Assistant Prof. Tammy Stephenson said.
“I was surprised at the breadth of the problem,” Emporia State University Class President Tyler Huddleston told The Kansas City Star newspaper. “I didn’t realize how many students were affected by this.”
CNBC reported in October that, despite the Labor Department’s announcement that the official national unemployment rate had fallen to 5.8 percent, the real rate of those who are unemployed, underemployed or not looking but want a job was 13.9 percent. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate is still at a 36-year low, at a measly 62.8 percent.