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  • Karlen Nurijanyan


Updated: Aug 3, 2021

If you are reading this, you have been there, or someone close to you has experienced food insecurity while in academia. Sadly, nowadays, 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.

It is estimated that almost one-third of college students do not have the financial means to afford balanced meals and sustain their living, which leads to hunger 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.

Even TikTok videos are made in which young professionals broadcast their new home, namely, ""their car,"" as the only means of shelter they have in such difficult times.

I was in a similar situation while attending a community college. There were days when I ignore 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 $9, and working part-time was necessary. Utilizing expensive alternatives, such as student loans and credit cards, was also vital.

Thousands are just a few missed paychecks away from beginning their own combat with hunger insecurity. 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 hunger 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.

Yes, it may be true that many who graduate, thankfully, get high paying jobs and exit this situation. However, we cannot forget the ones who enter colleges with a similar issue and need help. This phenomenon runs in a cyclical motion, encouraging many hundreds of entrepreneurs, not only in Los Angeles but in other cities and states, to step up, act and be the change.

Student LunchBox is one of the few organizations in California that focuses on college student welfare. We hope that our work will encourage many to support our cause so that we can expand our mission to all communities.

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