New study highlights food and housing security issues on Indiana college campuses

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INDIANAPOLIS — Food and housing insecurity is a known problem on Indiana college and university campuses.

A new study done by Foster Success and the Indiana Commission of Higher Education shows that, and more.

“What we know are these basic needs: housing, food, transportation, continue to get in the way of students completing their degrees,” said Maggie Stevens, the President and CEO of Foster Success.

Foster Success works to help kids aging out of foster care.

“We really wanted to understand not only the challenges facing our young adults in foster care but the general population of college students,” Stevens said.

Part of the study showed many colleges and universities had already taken correct steps to help students struggling.

“About 3/4s of the colleges and universities that responded indicated they had some type of food pantry available for students,” she said.

IUPUI is one of our local universities with a food pantry. Shaina Lawrence, the IUPUI Associate Program Director for Student Advocacy Support, said they now have a $100,000 budget from the university so students can come and shop once a week.

“If you’re basic needs: food, housing, clothing, if those are not met you aren’t going to be successful wherever you are at an institution,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said in 2018 the school researched how many students struggled with food and housing security.

”Based on our sample size of students, about 43% are food insecure and 41% are housing insecure at some level,” Lawrence said.

A recent study showed this type of research isn’t common. Statewide, there’s no system to track how many students are impacted by food and housing insecurity.

Stevens is hoping their study can push a statewide conversation about tracking these numbers.

“Understanding what the full need is and what is really out there I think will help campuses hone in on providing the right resources,” she said.

You can read the full report on food and housing security at Indiana college and university campuses at this link.

We reached out to other local colleges and universities to see what is being done on campuses to fight food and housing insecurity.

  • At IU Bloomington, there is an Emergency Meals Project that took on food insecurity during the pandemic and there is also the Crimson Cupboard, an on-campus food bank.
  • At Purdue, there is the ACE Campus Food Pantry. It’s open Tuesday and Sunday for students and staff struggling with food insecurity. More support for Purdue students can be found here.
  • Student resources for things like food security and housing support for Ball State students can be found at the online Basic Needs Hub.

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