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Food Insecurity in Colleges & How it Impacts Mental Health

This Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re talking about ways that food impacts mental health. One of the populations that can be especially affected by this link is college students. Food insecurity among college students is high, with around 1 in 3 college students in Pennsylvania facing food insecurity during their time in college.

Here’s what JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry intern and CCAC student Kaila Tench has to say about this issue:

“When you announce that you will be attending college, everyone is quick to congratulate you and offer words of advice such as, ‘study hard, and don’t party too much,’ but few people truly know the real issues and struggles that college students face. Hunger and food insecurity are undeniable struggles that many students face from campuses all across the U.S. Many students rely on financial aid and personal loans in order to attend college, due to not having help from family or receiving scholarships. After the cost of tuition, books, and materials, many students have little to no money to spare for groceries and everyday meals. An average day for a college student that faces food insecurity means grabbing a coffee, hoping the caffeine will keep them focused during their classes, skipping lunch, and opting for ramen noodles for dinner–a cycle that can repeat itself every day throughout the week. Alleviating hunger amongst college students means the opportunity to receive higher grades, a decrease in students experiencing depression, less students withdrawing before completing their degree or certificate, and also an increase in overall physical health.”

While JFCS’s pantry works to serve college students in our region, there are other ways that colleges can help students who may be struggling in this way. Learn more about how JFCS is working with others across the state to alleviate food insecurity for college students. 

If you’re a college student up to age 22, you can get support for your mental health at upstreetpgh.org. Get support from a therapist, right now, when you need it.