Nearly 50 percent of American college students experience food insecurity -- the state of not having consistent access to affordable, nutritious food -- according to a study from Hunger on Campus.
The need exists everywhere, including at Northern Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati, where campus food pantries serve hundreds of students who've found themselves stretched to a fiscal breaking point while pursuing higher education.
"A lot of our students are financially heavy and require a lot of financial aid (to attend)," Daniel Cummins, assistant dean of students at UC, said. "With that, they're making a choice of, are they spending their money on food or books? On food or rent? On food or keeping the electricity on?"
Stereotypes of college students often call to mind images of extremely privileged young people tapping on smartphones and swilling Starbucks lattes, but Cummins said that often isn't the case. College students come from all walks of life, he said, and starting from a position of financial insecurity shouldn't mean a young person loses out on their education.
"We're trying to be available and providing resources for students who are in need and trying to eliminate the stigma of being stereotyped as someone who is financially blocked," he said.
The Fuel NKU food pantry provides food and toiletries for students such as Tenneh Williams, who said she first came because she was struggling. She, and most of the pantry's clients, returned again and again to a place that provided her with the nonjudgemental help she needed.
"I go there like two times a week and just get as much food as I can and toiletries," she said. "That really helps me throughout the year."
Like all food pantries, Fuel NKU and the Bearcats Pantry are always in need of donations.
Click here to read more about donating to Fuel NKU.
Click here to read more about donating to the Bearcats Pantry.