New Report Highlights Students’ Struggle with Food, Housing

Published: 
Tuesday, March 3, 2020

According to a new report, six out of 10 community or technical college students in Washington State experienced hunger or housing insecurity over the past year, even though most of them are working. The report was compiled by The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Nearly 13,550 students from 28 community and technical colleges participated in the #RealCollege Survey from the Hope Center in the fall of 2019. The report found that 41 percent of students who responded to the survey were food insecure in the prior 30 days, 51 percent faced some level of housing insecurity the previous year, and 19 percent said they were homeless.

The survey reinforced SPSCC’s focus on addressing food and housing barriers that impact students’ ability to stay in school and earn a degree.

In 2017, an SPSCC student senator saw the need for food assistance among her peers and helped implement a food pantry. Partnerships between Student Leadership, SPSCC Foundation, and Thurston County Food Bank have helped it grow to now offer frozen, refrigerated, canned, and fresh food options. The number of student visits is growing each year; the food pantry has seen over 600 visits since Sept. 2019.

To support student housing needs, SPSCC was recently awarded $131,000 by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). These funds will support students with housing assistance, food options, and additional resources by providing access to showers, laundry facilities, and storage lockers.

“Every day we work to keep students on track and complete their degree,” said SPSCC president Dr. Timothy Stokes. “For many of our students, simply knowing that their basic needs will be met—a roof over their head, a hot meal, and a good night’s sleep—is enough to help them persist through any academic challenges.”

An interior photo of the food at the SPSCC Food Pantry
In 2017, an SPSCC student senator saw the need for food assistance among her peers and helped implement a food pantry.
Photo Credit: Molly Walsh