New Report Released about Food Insecurity on College Campuses

College students continue to face food insecurity and hunger.

According to the annual update of the largest survey in the nation studying the basic needs of college students, 48% of students who attend two year schools such as community and technical colleges faced food insecurity in the last 30 days. 38% of these students reported that they ate less than they should because they didn’t have enough money to buy more food. 12% of students at two-year institutions did not eat for a full day because they did not have enough money for food. Food insecurity is even higher among marginalized students including African Americans, LGBTQ students, students who are financially independent from their parents, those who used to be in foster care and students with disabilities and chronic medical conditions. Two-thirds of the students who were food insecure are employed and working in addition to being enrolled in school.

For the report, “College and University Basic Needs Insecurity” researchers from the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University analyzed survey results from more than 80,000 students nationwide, including some in Washington.

The results follow on a 2018 study of University of Washington students, also released in May. That study, which included UW Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses, found that 25% of students worried about not having enough to eat.

To help address food insecurity for college students in Pierce County, Nourish has partnered with local community & technical colleges to provide food bank services directly on their campuses. Our mobile food bank visits Bates Technical College, Clover Park Technical College, Pierce College Puyallup, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom and Tacoma Community College for two hours shifts once each week. From our food banks, clients receive nutritious food for themselves and their families so they can make it through the week. While our food banks are on campuses, they are open to anyone in the community who is in need of food, not just students.

To learn more about the expansion of our mobile food banks, read Nourish Launches Mobile Food Banks at Local Colleges.
To find the schedule for our food banks, visit our Food Bank Locations page.
To support our ability to provide this service, Donate to Nourish.

Nourishing our Neighbors: Linda

Linda and her family have been clients at the Northwest Tacoma Nourish Food Bank for about six months.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Linda says. “The people are awesome and so nice.”

She explains that she moved in with her youngest daughter a few months ago in order to save money on expenses and so she can help out more with her grandchildren. “There are eight of us here at the house. It’s been a good thing to move in together.”

Both she and her daughter work, but it is not enough to pay her household expenses. “We make too much to get food stamps, but don’t make enough to pay our bills and buy food.” She explains that, before she found the food bank that, “there were times when the kids did not have food in the cabinets. The grandkids are excited when I go because they know they can get something they like.”

The number of families like Linda’s are growing. According to a 2016 Pew Research study, there are 29 million people in the U.S. where three generations – a grandparent, an adult child, and a grandchild – all live in the same home.

Linda’s family is an example of an ALICE household. ALICE stands for “Asset-Limited, Income Constrained Employed.” It refers to households that have working family members who make enough that they are above the poverty line, disqualifying them from many types of state assistance. But, their incomes are still so low that they don’t make enough to pay all of their household expenses like rent, transportation, prescriptions, medical expenses, childcare, and food. According to the local United Way, 24% of households in Pierce County are ALICE households because of low wages and a high cost of living.

Linda appreciates that the food bank is open at a convenient time for her – she visits on Saturdays – and says the amount of food she receives is large. “We don’t go every weekend because we get enough that it gets us through a few weeks.”

Linda says she really relies on the food bank staff and volunteers. “It’s had a huge impact. I don’t know what I’d do without them.” It’s been huge relief for her family. “When the kids can eat, then everything is better.”

Get to Know a Nourish Food Bank: Northwest Tacoma Nourish Food Bank

As you shop at the Proctor Farmers’ Market in Tacoma on Saturday mornings, you may not realize that there is a food bank operating close by.

Located at the Mason United Methodist Church at 27th and Madison, the Northwest Tacoma Nourish Food Bank provides food to those in need in our community. Every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, the food bank opens its doors and welcomes people in need from all over Tacoma and the rest of Pierce County.

In 2018, the Northwest Tacoma Nourish Food Bank provided food to clients nearly 49,000 times, totaling over 440,000 meals. Brenda says that many of the clients speak Ukrainian and Russian.

Brenda is the food bank manager at Northwest Tacoma Nourish Food Bank. In February, she joined Nourish as our newest food bank manager in February. Brenda grew up in the military and served in U.S. Coast Guard herself. She earned a master’s degree in nonprofit management and has worked in nonprofits for more than 15 years.

Brenda manages the day-to-day operations of the food bank and oversees the volunteers. Last year, volunteers contributed 10,304 hours of their time at Northwest Nourish, the equivalent of 5 full-time staff people. Many of the volunteers come from the churches in the area, including St. Marks Lutheran by the Narrows, First Christian, Zion Lutheran, Redeemer Lutheran, Bethany Presbyterian and Mason United Methodist.

“The dedication of the volunteers that serve here amazes me every day.” Brenda says. “They all go out of their way to ensure our clients feel welcomed. Visiting a food bank is never fun but our volunteers are great at making people feel at ease and valued.”

The food bank has a strong relationship with the Proctor Farmers’ Market. At the end of the market, leftover fruit and vegetables is taken over and delivered to the food bank, to be shared with people in need in the community. The food bank also receives fresh vegetable donations from the pea patch garden at Orchard and Vine.

To hear more from a client at the Northwest Tacoma Nourish Food Bank, read Linda’s story.
To help us continue operating the Northwest Tacoma Nourish Food Bank, make a gift today.

Nourishing our Neighbors: Darleen and Brittnee

Darleen and Brittnee, mother and daughter, agree on two things, that life is sometimes unkind and that Nourish provides them with the resources to get back on their feet.

Darleen and Brittnee are clients at the Southeast Tacoma Nourish Food Bank. Darleen is currently recovering from an accident that left her unable to work. Her daughter, Brittnee, is also a mother raising two children while she is finishing classes in culinary arts at a local technical college.

Darleen says “It’s hard financially and I often get low on food.” Darleen says that no food is wasted in her neighborhood, providing any extra meals or supplies to neighbors who need it just as much as she does. “I just feel you shouldn’t have more than you need,” she says.

Brittnee talks about her children, “The kids are growing and very active so they eat a lot.” She says the food bank provides her some solace when things appear bleak.

Darleen explains that they only come to the food bank when need it. “I try not to use it but sometimes I just have to.” For this family, Nourish helps keep hunger at bay so they can address other needs in their life.

Thank you to Chris Fruitrich, retired journalist and current Nourish volunteer, for this interview.

Nourish Launches Mobile Food Banks at Local Colleges

Half of community and technical college students struggle with food insecurity. A national survey conducted by University of Wisconsin researchers found that between 42% and 56% of community college students reported being food insecure in the last 30 days.

To help respond to this problem, Nourish has formed a new partnership with local community and technical colleges here in Pierce County. This year, the Nourish Mobile Food Bank has started service at five new sites at local schools including:

  • Bates Technical College
  • Clover Park Technical College
  • Pierce College Puyallup
  • Pierce College Fort Steilacoom
  • Tacoma Community College
Sue Potter, Nourish’s Executive Director, gives a tour of the mobile food bank at Bates Technical College

 

For two hours each week, the mobile food banks provide food to people in need at each site. In the eight weeks since we launched the first college site at TCC, we have served food to 672 people from these new distribution locations.

While the mobile food banks are located on campus, they are open to anyone in need. Many of the campuses are located in neighborhoods with limited food options, so the new mobile food bank sites are a help to college students as well as the community members living nearby.

Nourish’s mobile food banks are full-service food banks on wheels. They provide clients with the same amount of food as if they visited one of our fixed location food banks and they use the same self-select service model. Nourish currently has seventeen mobile food bank sites around Pierce County.

To find the hours of operation, visit our Food Bank Locations page.
Support Nourish’s ability to provide this service, make a donation today.