OSU presents resources for when hunger, poverty hit close to home
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 01:01
Rates of hungry and homeless college students are on the rise. According to an article in Higher ED, the amount of homeless young people is at 1.6 million. That is a 69 percent increase over the past two years. With the increase of the student population the Oregon State University community has seen a rise in their students seeking financial assistance. These students go to the Human Services Resource Center.
The HSRC space does not look like an office. It looks like a living room. Couches and chairs are placed around the room.
HSRC provides students with MealBux, the OSU emergency food pantry, emergency housing services, graduate conference subsidies, health insurance subsidies and rental assistance.
MealBux is one of the most used services that HSRC provides. The first week of every term students can come in and apply for money they can use for food. The average amount a student receives from Mealbux is $40-60. The money is then deposited onto student ID cards and can be spent anywhere on campus. Last year HSRC met with 6,857 students.
“We want this to be a place where students can feel like they can talk,” said Caity Cagle, head of HSRC promotions.
Cagle, an OSU senior, has worked closely with the issue of hungry students for the past three years. Cagle said HSRC does a lot of referral within the surrounding community when HSRC cannot provide the kind or amount of assistance students are looking for. While HSRC can provide help with food, they do not have the money to help students seeking help with rent and housing.
“We are working to have that in the future,” Cagle said.
When Human Services Resource Center can’t provide assistance they help the student contact We Care, an organization that can help with housing and rent.
Additionally, HSRC holds an emergency food pantry provided by Linn Benton Food Share two to three times a month.
“It’s kind of like grocery shopping,” Cagle said.
The emergency food pantry, held in the International Forum, is open to OSU students as well as the surround in need community members. In 2010-2011, 1,294 people within the Corvallis community members used the emergency food pantry. That number has increased by 95 percent within the last year.
Cagle discussed the ways in which poverty is facing college students at OSU. She described the trust they have in students.
“There’s a stigma in our society about reaching out for help,” Cagle said. “So if a student is coming in here then we assume that they need help. People assume that you can tell if someone needs help. There’s a stereotype that says you can look at someone and determine if they are poor. When people see some of the ‘wealthier items’ they make assumptions. Some students do all of their homework on an iPhone.”
Cagle says this is an issue that is not receiving enough attention.
“Poverty is an issue that people don’t really think about on a college campus,” Cagle said. “I feel like it’s an invisible issue. It needs more attention brought to it.”
HSRC is the only OSU funded organization to help with the growing population of homeless and hungry students. Starting this year all of HSRC’s funding will come out of student fees. Previously the budget for HSRC came out of ASOSU’s budget.
Kristy Wilkinson, news reporter