Sharon A. Aronovitch, PhD, RN, CWOCN
November 11 – 19, 2017 was designated National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week. According to information found on the website for the National Coalition for Homelessness, there are more than 540,00 individuals each night who are homeless, as well as 2.5 homeless children each year. When we think of homelessness, we also need to consider those Americans living at or below the poverty level. The census bureau data for 2015 reported 43.1 million adult Americans and nearly 20 percent were children live below the poverty level.
The National Coalition for the Homeless developed a toolkit to help individuals and groups to put together a strategy for helping the homeless. Being hungry is not limited to people who are homeless. The University of California conducted a study of 10 college campuses to assess students’ food security. This 2015 survey of students found that 42 percent of students were food insecure, meaning that they lacked reliable access to sufficient amounts of affordable, nutritious food. Because of this study, the President of the University of California system approved $75,000 for each campus to enhance food access and supply for the students.
The Wisconsin HOPE Lab conducted a similar study in 2017 of community colleges in 24 states. The results reveal nearly 70 percent of students in 70 colleges are marginally food insecure. Even though this is not a national study, it clearly demonstrates there is a problem with obtaining food and shelter for college students.
There are many ways to help out in your community; many of these activities are very simple. You can contribute to your local food bank, sponsor an educational awareness day, or simply go to an agency responsible for working with the homeless and ask what you can do to support their efforts.