Hearing on: Ending Hunger in America – Hunger on College Campuses
Date: September 8, 2021
Chairman McGovern, Ranking Member Cole, and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for your commitment to highlighting and taking bold action to end hunger in America—including on college campuses. The opportunity to speak today is a bright sign of progress, and a true honor.
My name is Sara Goldrick-Rab, and I’m the founder and president of The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. I’m also Professor of Sociology and Medicine at Temple University. Founded at Temple in 2018, The Hope Center is transforming higher education into a more effective, equitable, and impactful sector using a powerful combination of applied scientific research, technical assistance to colleges and universities, policy advising with state and federal governments, and strategic communications. We view students as humans and lifelong learners whose college educations will improve their communities and the nation. Our primary expertise is in basic needs security, including food security, among college students.
The evidence is clear: addressing students’ basic needs is required for ensuring their success in college. In addition, while these hearings are focused on ending hunger, many students facing food insecurity are also in need of safe, secure, and adequate housing—to sleep, to study, to cook, and to shower; healthcare to promote sustained mental and physical well-being; affordable technology and transportation to learn and get to class; resources for personal hygiene; and childcare and related needs. Without these basic needs met, students struggle to learn, achieve, and graduate. They fall deeply into debt, often leaving college without degrees needed to repay it.
This problem wastes talent and moves our country backwards. We must address the root causes driving food insecurity on campus and beyond. This goes far beyond the high price of college and failures of the financial aid system; it includes the paucity of living wage jobs, the extraordinary levels of wealth inequality and the racial wealth gap, and the systemic flaws in the so-called safety net.
Having been deeply engaged in this work for more than 20 years, I assure you that basic needs insecurity in higher education, particularly food insecurity and hunger, is real, pervasive, and something that we can absolutely solve with the right combination of political will and strategic investment.