Today’s tip is about a tough issue without an easy answer: homelessness and food security. A study from the Chancellor’s Office brought some of those issues home to us. They are estimating up to 12% of students have insecure housing and up to 24% experience regular food insecurity. This is based on a limited preliminary study which is being continued. These numbers are shocking, but consistent with other studies, including some national work on Community College students. As many of the researchers note this is a difficult topic because of the stigma associated with housing and food insecurity students are often reluctant to self-report these problems.
This is a tough topic, but you may be wondering what it has to do with teaching. First and foremost, we care about our students as people and I would imagine most of us would want to help our students even if these problems did not intersect with learning. Unsurprisingly, they do intersect with learning. The aforementioned national study from Wisconsin’s HOPE lab reports “The data suggest that students feel quite compromised by inadequate living situations, and often struggle to focus on school.”
It is not your responsibility as an instructor to ask distracted students if they are hungry or offer up a room in your house. We can point them toward resources on and off campus.
Our Wildcat Food Pantry is a great resource for students, but did you know they can also sign up for EBT in Kendall 110? Also, students should ask about veggie bucks at the Wednesday sales outside the BMU. I would suggest these resources for all students rather than just ones you think might be in need. The pantry should be a resource for some people, and other students might be in a position to donate. In any case, the emerging research on this topic should give us pause as we are often quick to judge our students. That distracted look or forgotten assignment may be the result of dire circumstances outside their control.
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