At least 25 students at Spelman and Morehouse colleges are on hunger strike to bring awareness to food insecurity on campus and to get the school to change policies on donating unused meals from student pre-paid meal plans to needy students. According to CrossRoads News, of Spelman and Morehouse's combined student populations of more than 4,400, close to 1,400 students are not on meal plans.
Food insecurity is a real issue on college campuses across the country. The cost of attending college is enough to saddle the average graduate with student loan debt of nearly $38,000, and that doesn't include the day-to-day expenses of living away from home. According to a 2016 report by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, 48 percent of 3,765 respondents across 34 institutions reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, including 22 percent with very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry.
In 2009, The University of California partnered with a program called Swipe Out Hunger that works with colleges and meal providers to provide a means for students to give their already paid for meals to students in need or homeless people in the surrounding community. Morehouse and Spelman students are hoping to duplicate this program at their colleges.
“By introducing a Swipe Out Hunger program at Spelman and Morehouse, we would directly impact student hunger and raise the awareness on the issues impacting our fellow students experiencing hunger and homelessness while in college,” explained Mary-Pat Hector a Spelman student.
Spelman's director of marketing and communications, Joyce Davis said the hunger strikers raised a "very concerning" issue of widespread hunger insecurity on campus, and the college administration will set a time to meet with the strikers to discuss possible solutions.