As college enrollment among low-income and first-generation (nearly 1 in 3 undergraduates) students grow, many students are finding that they aren’t getting the holistic supports they need and are struggling with issues that go far beyond academic achievement. The skyrocketing cost of a college education, coupled with inflation and insufficient student aid packages that often exclude funds for living expenses—are contributing to a rampant hunger crisis on campuses.

A 2019 report by the Government Accountability Office estimates that as many as 30% of college students are food insecure, and many of these students are at risk of dropping out because they cannot eat. While some campuses are working to address the issue, others have been slow to respond to the crisis, and college students are often barred from accessing federal programs like SNAP – which could provide crucial aid to those who are struggling.

    • In this session, we explore:
  • The scale of the problem and how it is embedded in college campuses across the country.
  • The complex factors that have contributed to the college hunger crisis and the impact it is having on the student body.
  • How barriers like stigma make it more challenging to identify the problem.
  • Ways students and communities are organizing to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to keeping students fed and in school.

Meet Our Panelists

Anna Bowden, Campus Life Program Assistant and Chair of the Food Pantry Board of Directors, Louisiana State University. Anna Bowden is in her senior year of pursuing a Nutrition and Food Science degree with a concentration in Nutrition, Health, and Society and a minor in Business Administration. She is working towards tackling the pervasive problem of food insecurity through sustainable methods at Louisiana State University. In her short career she has worked her way up from being a student worker in the LSU Food Pantry to the Chair of the Board of Directors for the pantry. Also, in her time at LSU she has been the director of Volunteer LSU and is currently one of seven students in charge of managing all volunteer and student events at LSU. This past summer she served as a Youth Ambassador for Share Our Strength in New Orleans working with the Summer Feeding Program. Anna is currently working on a collaborative fundraising event between LSU and Ole Miss to provide meals for both communities. She plans to continue her work with food systems and connecting food waste to food insecure communities.

Jaime Hansen is the Executive Director at Swipe Out Hunger. With over 20 years in the community benefit sector, Jaime has worked with national, state, and multi-county agencies to achieve stability and mission-driven success. Jaime currently resides in Boise, Idaho — a state with a strong agricultural community but large barriers to food and nutrition access. Her passion for justice and equity for basic needs is shaped by her childhood. With nomadic parents, she lived in different states across the country and saw how many across America live. Jaime has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychological Sciences as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and returns to school every fall to teach Nonprofit Management at Boise State University. You can often find Jaime in the vast wilderness of Idaho on a raft or in snowshoes. She loves all things food and regularly experiments in cooking with her partner Xanti, a 5-year-old with dance fever, and their two dogs.

Radha Muthiah currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Capital Area Food Bank. As CEO, she leads a team that distributed the food for over 64 million nutritious meals, directly and through a network of 400+ partners, to over a million people facing food insecurity in the greater Washington region last year. Since joining the food bank in March of 2018, Muthiah has led the food bank in its development of a new strategic plan that both addresses hunger today and begins to tackle the root causes of food insecurity. Under Muthiah’s leadership, the CAFB is responding to the increase in the region’s food insecurity as a result of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also focused on the development of programs and services that bundle food with education, skill development, financial literacy training, housing, health and more in order to effect catalytic change in the lives of those the food bank serves. She serves as a member of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and of the Public Health Institute Board of Directors, and is a Trustee of the Federal City Council. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in economics from Tufts University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University.

Dr. Jessica Owens-Young is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Studies at American University. Her research centers on investments and policies that improve health through community and economic development and the roles race and racism play in shaping these investments and policies. Prior to American University, she was a Program Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation where her work focused on the connections between health and early academic success. She has a Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins University, a M.S. in Health Promotion Management from American University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Moderated by Johanna Elsemore, Manager, Media & Public Affairs, Share Our Strength | No Kid Hungry. She’s an alumna of American University, where she received her Masters of Science in Nutrition Education with a concentration on food justice. During her time at American, Elsemore designed a food justice curriculum for undergraduate students and published an article in the Journal of Food Studies examining the critical role of colleges and universities in the food justice movement, from developing the next generation of food justice leaders to addressing food insecurity on college campuses. She’s a passionate foodie, self-taught chef and triathlete living in Washington D.C. with her husband and two pit bulls.

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