By Jordan Mitchell |Staff Writer|
A year-long study conducted in 2015 by the California State University system found that 105,800 students have worried about hunger and 46,000 have experienced homelessness, according to the Press-Telegram.
Researchers believe the problem has become more serious due to higher tuition and the changing demographics in the CSU system, according to KPCC News.
“Systems need to be implemented in every college and university in the country to find these students and ensure that they reach their full potential without worrying about where their next meal is coming from or where they will be sleeping,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy White.
Nearly 10,000 CSU students identified themselves as homeless on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during the 2013-2014 academic year, according to the CSU study.
“Life is hard enough just being a student. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to stress about where to live and what you will eat that day,” said student Arlene Zamora.
Some students are not surprised that higher tuition could create such conditions for CSU students.
“It causes enormous strain mentally, emotionally and physically. It’s a constant struggle of wondering how in the world am I going to pay for all this? Can I even afford to eat something tonight or do I need to save to pay for school?” said Cal Poly Pomona student Cassie Schmidt.
Some CSU faculty members argue that the stress may limit students from exploring other opportunities offered on campus.
“If you’re worried about food or if you’re worried about housing, you’re not engaging in those extra clubs or leadership opportunities or athletics because you’re having to think about an extra job or finding money to get your next meal,” said CSU Humbolt professor Jen Maguire.
CSU campuses known to offer the most assistance are located in Chico, Northridge, Pomona, and San Bernardino, with food pantries and emergency housing, according to KPCC News.
Some students on campus are aware of the services San Bernardino offers, others think more can be done to raise awareness.
“I think all CSU campuses should initiate a food pantry such as we have here at CSUSB, The DEN,” said student Hazel Ceron.
“These food pantries should respect the students privacy and keep confidentiality at all times. However, while keeping confidentiality, the food pantries should also be tabling at large-scale events to bring awareness to our student body and how they can contribute to the cause,” continued Ceron.
The DEN, which opened mid-January, offers emergency supplies for CSUSB students in need.
So far The DEN has given 69 students large bags of groceries and hygiene products and distributes “day packs” of food for short-term assistance, according to the CSUSB website.
“I feel like I’ve heard about it a little bit because I tried to volunteer for The DEN. I think it’s crazy and sad but it’s believable at the same time,” said student Jasmine Turner.
White said he will extend the study for the 2016-2017 academic school year, according to The Press-Telegram.
“It is our shared responsibility to chart the course that is responsive to the needs of all students and to empower student success by combining quality education with opportunity,” said White.
The DEN is located in the Faculty Office Building, Room 227.