Food Pantries On NJ College Campuses

Feb 27, 2017

College officials testify at NJ legislative hearing
Credit Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are focusing on hunger among college students.

Carey Wilson directs off-campus living at Rutgers University New Brunswick. She says a food pantry opened there in September to support students who don't have enough money for food.

"We have students who are disconnected from families and therefore lacking the support they need when times are tough.  We have returning adult students who are coming back to school after a layoff and have to support their family. We have students who are choosing between paying for textbooks and paying for food."

Ellen Daley is a nutritionist at Rutgers Newark. She says a food pantry opened there in January.

“Our surveys show that about 60 percent of our students experience food insecurity and 25 percent had skipped a meal because they don’t have enough money.”

Another college official said some students scan social media sites to find public programs and events where food is available.

Karen Pennington is the vice president for student development at Montclair State University. She told lawmakers some students are not receiving enough financial aid.

"Many of them are just doing the best they can to survive and get their books and get the things that they need, but they often will do that at the expense of eating. Not having food means that you can’t study, you can't be productive, you can't do the things you need to do to be a good student."

Senate Education Committee chairwoman Sandra Cunningham questions whether the state has enough revenue to increase student financial aid.