To be able to write Essay 2, you have to be well-informed about the food problem you will be writing about. Therefore, the first step will be to read articles and watch videos that will teach you about these various food problems in our country.
We will start by reading the article “Reducing Hunger on Campus” which is about the food insecurity problem among college students, one of the topic choices for Essay 2.
Psychologists are studying the effects of food insecurity among college students and developing solutions to help.
1 Ryan Pickering, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, remembers feeling hunger pangs during his final exams in college. The son of a paper mill worker and an elementary school teaching assistant in rural Maine, Pickering was a first-generation college student. Because money was tight, he had selected the school’s least expensive meal plan and it wasn’t enough to carry him through the semester.
2 “Being hungry affected my concentration, and there were also social costs to being low income,” says Pickering, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2008 and his psychology doctorate from the University of Maine in Orono in 2014. “I felt isolated when I couldn’t go out to eat with friends, and the loneliness became exponentially worse when I couldn’t go to the cafeteria.” He hid these difficulties from family members to avoid burdening them, which further intensified the sense of isolation.
3 Now Pickering, who is a member of APA’s Committee on Socioeconomic Status (CSES), is among a cadre of psychologists who are addressing the problem of food insecurity—defined as lack of access to a reliable supply of nutritious food—on college campuses. A 2018 survey of 86,000 students from 123 two- and four-year institutions throughout the United States by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, showed that 45% of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days. Rates of basic needs insecurity were highest for students who were financially independent from their parents or guardians, identified as LGBTQ or were racial or ethnic minorities.
4 To better understand how the worry over where their next meal is coming from affects students, psychologist Yu-Wei Wang, PhD, research director of the University of Maryland Counseling Center, conducted a study of more than 4,900 students at her school in 2017. She found that the lack of access to food affected every variable she was testing. Compared with students who had reliable access to enough food, students who were food insecure experienced significantly higher rates of depression, loneliness and anxiety. They also had lower self-esteem and lower grade-point averages and were more likely to withdraw from the university before earning their degrees. During in-depth interviews with 23 students who grappled with food insecurity, Wang learned that unpaid internships and other training opportunities were often unrealistic because these students needed to use time outside of school to work and earn money to afford basic needs, which meant their future career opportunities could be limited.
5 “I also found that there was a lot of shame attached to being food insecure, and as a result, many of them don’t feel comfortable asking for help,” says Wang. Some students shared that they avoided the campus food pantry because they were afraid of being judged or thought it was for people with even greater needs.
6 Stigma was also a theme that emerged when Heather Bullock, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her students hosted focus groups with 91 students at the university who identified as food insecure.
7 The University of California (UC) system, which includes 280,000 students and 10 campuses, had published data about the rates and impact of food insecurity on its campuses, but Bullock was eager to understand the daily lives and challenges of students affected by this problem. Through focus groups, she learned about the multitude of barriers that prevent students from accessing the food they need to thrive.
8 “Students, for example, felt that they should be able to make ends meet on their own and shouldn’t have to use nutrition assistance programs,” Bullock says. “We need to reduce the stigma around food insecurity and increase the accessibility of these programs.”
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