'Major Problem': Many U.S. college students face hunger and food insecurity

Nearly half the students surveyed from more than 100 colleges say they are too poor to buy food and are going hungry, according to a survey by Temple's Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.

These are students who are really in dire need and quite literally don't know when or where their next meal is going to come from," said Sarah Crawford, the education director of Single Stop USA, a national nonprofit that partners with colleges to identify and help students who cannot afford food.

"We're talking about students who can't afford bread and so they're doing things like adding flour to water so that at least they can get some calories that way," she said. "And it's cheaper than the cost of bread."

Single Stop USA has partnered with CUNY since 2009. Crawford said that many of the students they help are eligible for food stamps and other social services but never knew it.

Single Stop has a food pantry at CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College in Lower Manhattan.

"In March alone, we had almost 150 students to come through the pantry to receive the service," Single Stop's Deborah Harte, who runs the pantry, said. "It's a tremendous increase."

The program stocks the pantry with culturally diversified food from name brands that students recognize and will eat at home or on campus. It includes many foods that are microwavable.

"There's a population here that's homeless," Harte said, "so it's just easy for them to pop some of the food in the microwave right on the campus and be able to have a meal."

Hunger also forces students to choose between food and tuition.

Professor Nicholas Freudenberg of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy said that students facing hunger and food insecurity are more likely to have lower grades, fail courses, and drop out of school.

"It's really a major problem," he said.