Today’s college students face far more serious financial challenges than in previous generations. The cost of college tuition and fees increased at triple the rate of inflation over the last decade. At the same time, the student body has expanded to include a more diverse range of students. Roughly 73% of current college students are “nontraditional” students, meaning that they fit one of six criteria: they attend college part-time, are employed full-time, are financially independent, must provide for dependents, are a single parent, or do not have a high school diploma.

These realities have led to new levels of financial hardship for many students. Without parents who can support them, many of today’s students are attempting to pay for their own living expenses and for college at the same time. Faced with this challenge, a shocking number of students live at or near the poverty level. According to census data, the national poverty rate in 2011 was 15.2%, but for college students who were not living with relatives or on campus, the poverty rate was nearly 52%.

For many students, this poverty results in “food insecurity” – the lack of reliable access to sufficient, nutritious food. A growing body of research has found that the rate of food insecurity among college students is several times higher than among the general population.

Our Campaign to End Hunger on Campus helps college students develop and implement programs to ensure that no students on their campuses will ever need to go hungry.

We support students as they implement a wide range of strategies, including:

  • Education and Awareness: We help students raise awareness both on and off campus about student hunger issues, through educational events, media and publicity drives, and public outreach.
  • Implementing Student-Run Programs: We support students as they establish programs to support food-insecure students, including campus food pantries, food recovery programs, and campus gardens.
  • Winning New Programs from Campus Administrators: We train students on how to lobby their campus administrations to create institutional programs to address food insecurity, such as emergency food and housing vouchers, emergency grant awards, and benefit counseling programs.


Download our toolkit on how to run a campus food pantry.

Read our report, “Hunger on Campus,” about student food and housing insecurity.