I recently brought a group of students on a field trip from Jersey City, New Jersey to New York City.
A bus from campus to the nearest train to Manhattan costs 1.60 then the Path Train into New York costs 2.75. After sending out a confirmation email, I had a few students tell me they couldn’t pay the two fares of 2.75 back and forth. Others said they’d have trouble paying the 1.60 for the bus. My office covered all travel costs but it made me wonder how many students are truly struggling financially, so much so that a 5.50 or 7 dollars was out of their reach.
My current institution is also in the process of creating a food pantry on campus. We all know or have been one of those students who searched out the calendar to see which club or event was offering free lunch. My students go crazy when the English department decides to include mozzarella sticks at the memoir reading event. Don’t get it twisted, myself and many of you staff members reading, have also snuck away from the desk to grab a quick bite at the random multicultural event. It seems simple enough, people always want free lunch. Then you read some of the statistics of college student hunger and say wait a minute. While checking those stats out, I then watched college football coaches Jimbo Fisher and Chip Kelly add millions to their bank account. Many schools are certainly prioritizing hard hits over hunger.
Here are a few recent stand out moments:
Jimbo Fisher signed a fully guaranteed 10 year 75 million dollar contract to coach Texas A&M.
Consistent with prior studies, 48 percent of respondents nationally, reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days, including 22 percent with very low levels of food security that qualify them as hungry.
Next, I present to you, the University of Texas. They are currently paying a total of $12.45 million to their current coach, former coach and to the coach of the team that their current coach once’s coached. Got that?
Tom Herman: Current Coach
Charlie Strong: Got fired before his contract was up. So he’s owed the rest of that money.
Major Applewhite (coach of Houston): He gets paid because Texas chose to pay a buyout that Tom Herman owed University of Houston for leaving them.
According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), approximately 56,000 college students are homeless and hungry.
Lastly, we have Chip Kelly. Kelly just signed a 5 year, $23.3 million dollar contract with UCLA. He was fired from his previous two employers and this was his 3rd job in as many years.
UCLA has a student led project to feed the hungry on campus. Student Savannah Gardner said current estimates from existing surveys show that roughly 20 percent of UCLA students experience food insecurity.
I get that college football is bringing millions to institutions and maybe some of these schools see less hunger issues than others but we have all have responsibility. As educators, students and members of the community, we have to be prepared to change the culture. A recent NASPA blog post provides some great insight on what you could be doing on your campus to help with this issue.
Beyond all of these tips and statistics we have to recognize that food insecurity is impacting marginalized groups like students of color and first generation students more than anyone else. Students are missing classes and not buying textbooks in response to their hunger and housing crisis.Football coaches can’t keep eating better while our students stay hungry.
It’s time to set our priorities straight. New mindsets, culture change and imagination have to be brought to the table before bowl games.
MrJeffDess is the Co Founder of Trill or Not Trill. He’s also a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is an author of 5 books of poetry, including his latest, Trill Motivation With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt MrJeffDess continues to strive towards helping students reach their highest potential. For booking information, contact MrJeffDess at TrillorNotTrill@gmail.com or www.mrjeffdessworks.com