UConnPIRG Confronts Hunger on Campus

UConn PIRG works to represent the public interest and bring social change. The organization has organized spare change drives and trips to soup kitchens. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Earlier this month, a national study on food insecurity on college campuses was produced by several campus-based organizations.

Some of the organizations that authored the report include the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness and the UConn Storrs chapter of the Public Interest Research Group, also known as UConnPIRG.

The study found that 48 percent of students surveyed reported experiencing food insecurity within the past 30 days and 22 percent of students had very low food security and thus qualified as “hungry.”   

The study was conducted across 34 two and four year institutions including Norwalk Community College in Connecticut.

“While UConn students weren't surveyed, the study reflects the feelings of food insecurity experienced by students on college campus nationwide,” Matthew Talley, UConnPIRG’s Hunger and Homelessness campaign coordinator and third-semester history and economics double major, said.

UConnPIRG is a nonprofit student activism and advocacy group at the University of Connecticut that is currently working to help combat hunger on campus and in the larger community, according to its website.

The report found that 43 percent of students who had a meal plan still experienced food insecurity.

“Meal plans are expensive and commuter students usually don't opt for one. And for those with meal plans, the dining halls only have limited hours. UConn students are busy people with busy lives who don't always know when their next meal will be,” Talley said.

The report also found that 56 percent of food insecure students have paying jobs and 75 percent receive financial aid.

“When we have so many students who are doing everything right but still can’t afford food, it means we’re failing to provide these students with a viable path to success in their higher education,” Talley said.

One of UConnPIRG’s main projects right now is the Hunger and Homelessness Campaign.

“The campaign has three main components. The first is fundraising, the second is service, and the third is education,” Talley said.

Some of the programs and initiatives that UConnPIRG is working on starting up include holding a spare change drive to support My Sisters’ Place Inc. in Hartford and planning trips to local soup kitchens, Talley said.

“We're also in the beginning stages of holding events to raise awareness on campus about hunger not only being a problem, but also a reality,” Talley said.

Anna Zarra Aldrich is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu. She tweets @ZarraAnna.