News

Challah for Hunger welcomes 6 new board members

Join us in welcoming our newest board members, a diverse and talented group of individuals: Maya, our student representative from Miami, Sophie, a dedicated alumna from UNC Chapel Hill, Eileen, a volunteer who has helped us grow our Social Change Bakery and Giving Circle programs, Wendy, a parent of current superstar Jenna at Oxy and nutrition advocate, Claudine, a PR & Communications expert and Ariel, who bring hers experience with strategic planning. 

We also share our gratitude to several board members who are finishing their board terms: Kate Forester, Jeff Marks, Caryn Roth and our student representative, Jordan Friedland. Thank you for helping us #bakeadifference with your energy, leadership and passion for our work. 

Visit our Board of Directors Page to view our full board for 2017-2018.

Defining Failure More Fairly

The New York Times article “On Campus, Failure is on the Syllabus” (June 24) about efforts by colleges to teach coping skills to high-achieving, helicopter-parented students paints a worrisomely narrow picture of today’s college student.

In this piece, higher education administrators describe how initiatives like anti-stigma campaigns and special apps were developed in response to the rising tide of students struggling to adjust to campus life. Administrators cite childhoods jammed full of extracurriculars, stellar report cards and ceaseless praise from parents and teachers as the reasons that college students today are underprepared to deal with failure.

But according to recent surveys of campus food insecurity and housing insecurity by prominent scholar-practitioner Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab and her colleagues at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, today nearly 20% of American college students at four year universities and two-thirds of community college students have far more pressing things to worry about: whether they will fail to afford enough food for the week.

We must not dismiss the increased rates of anxiety and depression among teenagers and college students. Colleges that have strengthened campus mental health resources should be commended. But universities must think more inclusively and long-term about funding evidence-based programs that serve the needs of all their students and not just those who worry about getting a B on a test instead of an A.

Emergency grants of even $100 can go far for a student who would otherwise be forced to choose between paying for a textbook or paying for groceries. Other policies may include training staff to assist students to apply for public benefits and implementing systems that proactively identify and track at-risk students.

Let us not discount “special snowflake syndrome” but rather focus on building a future where a student’s “uniqueness” is broadly defined to include their financial background in addition to past academic performance, as well as national origin, race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Most crucially, campus professionals, faculty and higher education administrators need to build opportunities for students from all along this “uniqueness spectrum” to learn about each other’s wide ranging backgrounds in environments of empathy and respect.

Apply to join our National Board of Directors

Your voice matters to us. This is why we are looking for a
student representative to serve on our national Board of Directors.

The Challah for Hunger Board of Directors is a group of committed
volunteers who are responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities. Board members meet periodically to discuss and vote on the affairs of the organization.

Two years ago, we added two student members in order to ensure that the student voice is represented in big picture conversations. We currently have one student representative (Rachel Quinn from Binghamton) and are
looking for a fantastic leader to fill the other position.

Interested? Read about the Roles & Responsibilities and then submit a short application by June 10, 2017.

With gratitude,
Carly

Attention Students and Alumni: Take A Look at Our Surveys!

Every year, we send current student leaders and their volunteers a survey. The survey always provides us with helpful feedback. Thanks to the students who fill it, we’ve been able to improve our resources and strengthen our community.

Take the Student Survey here. 

For the first time ever, we are also releasing an alumni survey to better understand where our alumni are today and how CfH has shaped their lives post-graduation.

Take the Alumni Survey here.

From Cooking to Advocacy on Campus

Arielle Pearlman is a senior at Colgate University, graduating in May with a double major in Psychology and Spanish. She is a board member of Challah for Hunger at Colgate and serves on of the Student Planning Team for the Campus Hunger Project.

“Until the past few years, the problem of college students experiencing hunger and food insecurity received little attention and was under-researched. Coming from a private liberal arts college, this type of hyper-local hunger was never really on my radar.”

She reflected on her experience on The Charles and Lynn Schusterman
Family Foundation
 blog. You can read her full piece here.

Statement on Rise in Food Insecurity on College Campuses

Today at a town hall held at George Washington University, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the Association of Community College Trustees released their latest survey on food insecurity among college and university students. In response to these recent findings and to the February 23rd letter to the Government Accountability Office from Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Patty Murray and Senator Edward Markey requesting a more comprehensive assessment of this issue by the Government Accountability Office, we issued a statement. Read our full statement here.

 

Student Perspectives: UMass-Amherst and the Campus Hunger Project

Rebecca Goldberg, a junior, and Arielle Newman, a senior, are co-presidents of Challah for Hunger at University of Massachusetts – Amherst. To follow our chapters’ research and advocacy work, sign up for monthly updates here.

We decided to get involved in the Campus Hunger Project because as a chapter we want to be advocates for our peers. In order to do so, we needed to learn about what our university was currently doing to  help students
experiencing hunger.

We learned that in Fall 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education conducted a survey of student hunger and homelessness in the state’s 29 public colleges and universities. Nearly 40% of the state’s public campuses reported an increase in students living with food insecurity. We were struck by that fact that out of the five UMass campuses, UMass Amherst is the only one that is not operating or partnering with a regular or mobile food pantry.

However, during an interview with a member of the Dean of Students office, we learned about the different ways that the University does support students with financial need who are experiencing food insecurity.

  1. UMass Amherst offers loans without interest or late fees that can be taken out by students in need.
  2.  UMass Dining offers free meal swipes (the way our dining halls work is you swipe your university card and the food is buffet style) to those who demonstrate food insecurity.
  3. The Dean of Students office is working to create a Supply Closet Program stocked with toiletries and basic household items for students.There would be a few locations on campus where students could go for support such as the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health and the Dean of Students office.

All in all, we were pleasantly surprised by the number of  programs that UMass Amherst has since few people know about them due to minimal to no advertisement. These programs show that the University cares about fighting student hunger and supporting those students who are affected by it. Additionally, during the interview with the Dean of Students office, we found out that the majority of students find out about the office’s programs through word of mouth.

With that said, we make sure to tell our volunteers and the student body about these programs so that they are aware of them and can spread the word as well. During all of the volunteer sessions, we have a hunger advocacy component where we talk and teach about student hunger and the resources available to students. We also have fliers and information sheets on the table during tabling when we sell the challah bread. Challah for Hunger at UMass has been working hard to and is continuing to spread the word about all of the programs that UMass Amherst has to offer.

Student Perspectives: College Meals Plans and Campus Hunger

Lauren is one of five student leaders on the Campus Hunger Project Planning Team. She is a current sophomore and a board member of Challah for Hunger at the University of Vermont. To follow Lauren and the Planning Team’s progress, sign up for monthly updates here.

As a student at the University of Vermont, I have seen many of my peers struggle to budget out their meal plan’s dining points for the semester and end up forced to spend money buying meals outside of the plan or even skip meals if they do not have this money.

This is not just a problem on my campus: according to a recent study, 46% of food insecure college students run out of meal points before the semester is over compared to 33% of all students running out of meal points.

My current meal plan costs $2,061 a semester and comes with 1400 dining points, which averages out to about 90 dining points a week, or a little under $20.11 per day. For one week, I decided to try living off this dining point budget without skipping meals or spending more than 90 points.

By day one I realized that there was no way I was going to stay in this budget if I was only buying prepared food. From the limited grocery section available in the on-campus grocery market I bought cereal, an individual sized milk, rice, frozen broccoli and a small container of sliced chicken breast costing a day’s worth of points. I wanted to make those ingredients last me three days worth of dinner and breakfast and then I could spend the combination of the two other days of points on three days worth of lunches at other markets closer to my classes where I don’t have time to prepare food in between class.

I was able to eat three meals a day for the whole week, but it took a lot of planning and control. The only way I was able to stay within my 90 points was to prepare my own meals from the very limited grocery selection. I was definitely hungry at some points during the day and found myself seeking out free food whenever I could. Snacks were hard to buy as they only sell individually portioned snacks which tends to be pricier than buying a whole package. I found it hard to eat healthy as well, when buying ingredients for dinner my vegetable options were frozen corn or frozen broccoli and my starch options were pasta or white rice. My goal for lunch was to buy whatever would fill me up the most even if it wasn’t a healthy option.

I realized during this week that I am very lucky to have the ability to get food elsewhere if I need it – after just one week eating on this limited budget, I felt more hungry and tired than usual. It was very stressful trying to budget my meal plan and find time every day to cook dinner.

Expensive, mandatory meals plans that don’t provide three meals a day are causing serious health and financial issues for low income students who pay for a required meal plan and can’t afford to buy food elsewhere.

Two organizations are trying to help these students. The nonprofit Swipe Out Hunger allows students to donate meal swipes and points that they do not need to their peers. Over 400 Universities and Colleges as members of the College and University Food Bank Alliance have on campus food banks that allow students to get additional food which can help them spread out their meal plan.

While these resources are very useful to help students get the food they need at the current moment, students at some schools are advocating for more permanent solutions, petitioning the cost, quality, and availability of the food on the meal plan. Here at the University of Vermont a new committee of faculty was formed to investigate these issues further on our campus. These actions are urging policy changes at the university level which is the only way to cause long term change for the food security of students.