Getting a college degree is tough, especially for non-traditional students, who in many cases are also providing for their family.
As college students struggle with rising expenses, they're mortgaging their futures with student loans in exchange for a diploma they're gambling will someday pay off.
Because of that, hunger statistics are alarming.
More than a third of college students don't always have enough to eat and they also lack stable housing, according to a survey published by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.
The study concluded 36 percent of college students say they are food insecure. WECT's Bill Murray spoke with a couple of non-traditional students who are juggling jobs, family, and studies in hopes of a better life.
Chris Cain is a dad of four. He’s back in school trying to get an associate in arts degree, sometimes robbing Peter to pay Paul, as the old saying goes.
“You always have in the back of your mind, 'Where’s the best place for this to go?" Cain said. “And, yeah, there are times when I don’t eat.”
Brunswick County Community College is aware of the need. It’s one of the first in the state to offer a food pantry on campus specifically for hungry students.
More than 80 BCC students have used the pantry.
"Because the bags of food don’t cover the need of the week, and it’s just a supplement to get them through, we also include different resources,” BCC's London Schmidt said. “In those food bags, we put in an application for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) as well as references and contacts for the other local food banks in our area."
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina based in Wilmington sees the need, too.
There’s no food pantry on campuses in New Hanover County, but there is a need for a point in the right direction.
“Hungry is hungry, regardless of how old the student is,” food bank director Beth Gaglione said. “There are a lot of emergency food resources like pantries, particularly where groceries are accessible for the community college. UNCW is a different situation, and those students, most of them being traditional students, I think often do fall through the cracks.”
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