top of page
  • Writer's pictureKarlen Nurijanyan


Updated: Mar 26

If you are reading this, you have either experienced food insecurity while in college or know someone who has. Unfortunately, the conventional belief that “being broke in college is normal” masks the whole truth about campus hunger. Believe me, it is real, and it is a widespread issue.

According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), food insecurity affects approximately 30% of college students in the United States. This means that nearly one-third of students do not have the financial means to afford balanced meals and sustain their living, which leads to food insecurity. It's heartbreaking to see that many of these students are often forced to skip meals, take hunger naps, sleep in their cars, or find themselves in a state of virtual poverty.

The problem of campus hunger is particularly acute in California, where nearly 2.1 million students of all ages enroll in community colleges each year. Despite this high enrollment rate, many students struggle to make ends meet due to the high cost of living in the state. In fact, a recent survey by the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office found that more than 60% of students in the system experienced food insecurity within the past year.

I was in a similar situation while attending a community college. There were days when I ignored the constant stomach growl and turned to the vending machine for some nuts as they would subdue my hunger. Sometimes, I could not resist sleeping in the library to avoid reality. I must admit, I was one of the thousands forced to reduce or skip meals or take hunger naps between classes. For me and most of my college counterparts, attending college brought about many challenges, specifically the cost associated with tuition, room, board, and nutrition.

In 2010, the minimum wage was still set at below $8, and working part-time was necessary. Utilizing expensive alternatives, such as student loans and credit cards, was also vital. Unfortunately, these options often lead to financial burdens that college students carry long after graduation. However, the issue of food insecurity is a global phenomenon that affects students in various parts of the world. A study conducted in the United Kingdom found that nearly one in three students struggles with food insecurity, while a survey in Canada found that 39% of students experience food insecurity.

Thousands are just a few missed paychecks away from beginning their own combat with hunger. All of us must acknowledge that there is a significant issue that is not spoken of, and we must join forces to implement change.

Numerous times, I have been asked why I decided to focus on this particular problem and form Student LunchBox. In case you have the same question, my answer is simple. There will never be enough support to battle food insecurity because the number of students going hungry is too high. Nearly 2.1 million students of all ages enroll in California community colleges each year.

Trust me, we have had this issue for years, and the number of students going hungry or homeless stays unchanged. There is always going to be a vulnerability among thousands who cannot make ends meet.

However, if we focus on supporting smaller groups and communities, we can make progress, even if it is minuscule. That is why SLB is looking ahead in the future. Los Angeles is our start, and we are eager to make changes in many students' lives in many communities.

Student LunchBox is one of the few organizations in California that focuses on college student welfare. Our mission is to address food insecurity and other challenges faced by college students in Los Angeles and beyond. We aim to provide support through community outreach, education, and advocacy.

Our efforts have already made a significant impact on the lives of many students. We have provided nutritious food options to thousands of students in need, organized food drives and pantry distributions, and raised awareness about food insecurity and its effects on college students.

We hope that our work will encourage many to support our cause so that we can expand our mission to all communities by addressing food insecurity among college students.

bottom of page