UW Research On Student Food Security Inspires Food Pantry | Wisconsin Public Television

UW Research On Student Food Security Inspires Food Pantry

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Premiere Date: 
February 5, 2016

UW Research On Student Food Security Inspires Food Pantry

Ph.D. student Katharine Broton discusses the rising number of "non-traditional" students and their growing struggle to pay for all college-related expenses. The Associated Students of Madison are holding a food pantry for students in need, beginning Feb. 5. Questions can be sent to thepantry@asm.wisc.edu.

Episode Transcript

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

FROM PROFESSORS AND THEIR JOB SECURITY TO STUDENTS AND THEIR FOOD SECURITY. ON THE UW-MADISON CAMPUS A FOOD PANTRY OPENED TODAY. IT'S CALLED "THE OPEN SEAT" AND DESCRIBES ITSELF AS STRIVING TO ALLEVIATE THE STRESSES OF FOOD INSECURITY BY PROVIDING FRIENDLY AND ACCESSIBLE SOURCES OF FOOD FOR THE STUDENTS OF UW-MADISON. THE ORGANIZATION ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF MADISON OPENED THE PANTRY TO SERVE FELLOW STUDENTS. BUT HOW COULD STUDENTS AT THIS FLAGSHIP BE IN NEED OF DONATED FOOD? ACCORDING TO OUR NEXT GUEST, IT'S NOT A STRETCH. SHE'S COAUTHOR OF A NEW REPORT TITLED "HUNGRY TO LEARN" BASED ON RESEARCH CONDUCTED BY THE WISCONSIN HOPE LAB AT UW-MADISON. KATHARINE BROTON JOINS US NOW. THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

KATHARINE BROTON:

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WE ASKED THAT QUESTION, HOW COULD STUDENTS AT THIS FLAGSHIP NEED DONATED FOOD? YOU SEE KIDS WALKING AROUND WITH THEIR NORTH FACE BACKPACKS AND THEIR UGG BOOTS, BUT HUNGER IS A THING EVEN ON THIS CAMPUS?

KATHARINE BROTON:

OUR RESEARCH INDICATES THAT EVEN ON CAMPUSES SUCH AS UW-MADISON THAT FOOD INSECURITY IS A PROBLEM AMONG OUR NATION'S COLLEGE STUDENTS.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

AND IT HAS EVERYTHING TO DO OBVIOUSLY WITH THEM NOT HAVING ENOUGH MONEY.

KATHARINE BROTON:

CERTAINLY. WE'VE BEEN STUDYING THIS ISSUE SINCE 2008 IN WISCONSIN, AND IT STARTED ON RESEARCH WE WERE DOING ABOUT FINANCIAL AID AND ASKING STUDENTS HOW ARE YOU PAYING FOR COLLEGE, HOW ARE YOU GETTING BY. AND STUDENTS STARTED TELLING US AT THAT TIME THAT THEY WEREN'T GETTING BY. THEY SIMPLY WEREN'T MAKING ENDS MEET. THEY WERE STRUGGLING TO GET ENOUGH FOOD. THEY WERE STRUGGLING TO HAVE A SAFE AND SECURE PLACE TO LIVE.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

HOW SURPRISING DO YOU THINK THAT IS TO MOST PEOPLE?

KATHARINE BROTON:

I THINK IT'S CERTAINLY SURPRISING. I THINK WE STILL HAVE THIS NOTION OF A TRADITIONAL COLLEGE STUDENT WHO GETS DROPPED OFF AT COLLEGE IN THEIR MINIVAN OR THEIR SUV WITH THEIR PARENTS AND LOADS OF SUPPLIES. BUT THE GROWING REALITY IS THAT OUR COLLEGE POPULATION IS CHANGING IN THE U.S. THREE-QUARTERS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS TODAY WE CONSIDER "NONTRADITIONAL," WHICH ISN'T NECESSARILY THE BEST TERM, BUT IT MEANS THE STUDENTS ARE OLDER, THEY'RE JUGGLING WORK AND FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES AND THEY'RE GOING IN AND OUT OF COLLEGE.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

NOW, YOUR LATEST RESEARCH FOCUSED ON THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT AND INCLUDED FIELD SURVEYS IN SEVEN STATES, INCLUDING WISCONSIN. WHAT DID YOU FIND ABOUT THAT POPULATION OF STUDENTS?

KATHARINE BROTON:

SO IN ADDITION TO THAT SURVEY, WE'VE ACTUALLY DONE TWO OTHER SURVEYS THAT HAVE FOCUSED EXCLUSIVELY ON STUDENTS IN WISCONSIN. AND THOSE SURVEYS INDICATE THAT OVER HALF OF STUDENTS THAT WE SURVEYED, WHICH ARE PREDOMINANTLY FROM LOW OR MODERATE-INCOME FAMILIES ARE STRUGGLING TO GET ENOUGH FOOD TO EAT. AND WHEN WE SAY FOOD INSECURITY THAT'S ACTUALLY A RANGE OF EXPERIENCES, RANGING FROM ANXIETY AND WORRY OVER THEIR FOOD SUPPLY TO CHANGES IN DIET ALL THE WAY TO REDUCTIONS OF FOOD INTAKE AND ACTUAL HUNGER. BUT SHOCKING NUMBERS OF STUDENTS ACTUALLY REPORT THAT THEY HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO EAT FOR AN ENTIRE DAY DUE TO RESOURCE LIMITATIONS.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WHAT KIND OF SERVICES ARE THERE OUT THERE FOR STUDENTS LIKE THAT?

KATHARINE BROTON:

SO WE SEE CHARITIES AND PHILANTHROPIC EFFORTS STANDING UP, AS YOU MENTIONED HERE AT UW-MADISON. THERE'S ALSO EFFORTS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES NATIONWIDE TO HELP CONNECT STUDENTS TO THE SOCIAL SAFETY NET IN A MORE FORMAL MANNER.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

BECAUSE YOU'RE TALKING THINGS LIKE FOOD STAMPS.

KATHARINE BROTON:

YEAH. SO THE WAY THE POLICIES WORK RIGHT NOW IS THAT IT'S ACTUALLY VERY DIFFICULT FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR FOOD STAMPS. THEY HAVE TO MEET A CERTAIN NUMBER OF EXCEPTIONS, INCLUDING WORKING 20 OR MORE HOURS A WEEK. SO EVEN THOUGH WE SEE THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF STUDENTS WHO ARE FOOD INSECURE ARE CURRENTLY WORKING, MANY OF THEM STRUGGLE TO MEET THAT 20-HOUR PER WEEK MARK OR SIMPLY THEY DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT AND DON'T KNOW HOW TO ACCESS THOSE BENEFITS.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WHAT KIND OF NOTICE ARE POLICYMAKERS TAKING TO THIS?

KATHARINE BROTON:

THERE CERTAINLY IS SOME INTEREST. I THINK WE NEED TO HAVE A BETTER REEXAMINATION OF HOW OUR HIGHER ED POLICIES ALIGN WITH OUR SOCIAL POLICIES TO BETTER SUPPORT STUDENTS. AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL, THE REAUTHORIZATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION IS BEING DISCUSSED, SO IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE WHAT COMES OUT OF THAT PROCESS IN THE COMING YEARS.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT FOOD INSECURITY, BUT YOUR RESEARCH ALSO LOOKS AT ACTUALLY STUDENTS WHO ARE HOMELESS WHILE GOING TO COLLEGE? HOW PREVALENT IS THAT IN WISCONSIN?

KATHARINE BROTON:

OUR LATEST SURVEY OF STUDENTS FROM LOW AND MODERATE-INCOME BACKGROUNDS IN WISCONSIN INDICATES THAT ABOUT 2.5% REPORT THAT THEY EXPERIENCED SOME FORM OF HOMELESSNESS IN THE PAST YEAR, WHICH INCLUDES THINGS LIKE STAYING IN A CAR OR AN ABANDONED BUILDING OR OTHER PLACE NOT NORMALLY MEANT FOR SHELTER, STAYING IN THE FORMAL SHELTER SYSTEM OR SIMPLY REPORTING THEY DON'T HAVE A PLACE TO STAY.

FREDERICA FREYBERG:

THANKS FOR YOUR RESEARCH.

KATHARINE BROTON:

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

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