Christian Burkert / The Broadside
Over a million Oregonians don’t have enough food to eat and as unemployment rates rise, it’s only getting worse.
In a study conducted by Oregon State University in December, researchers found that nearly twenty-five percent of Oregonians are experiencing food insecurity, or worries about and behaviors associated with a household not having sufficient food.
“Food insecurity is definitely a concern.” Says Marcus LeGrand, Pathway College and Career Success Coach at COCC. “Right now a lot of people are losing jobs and resources due to the pandemic, and food is one of those things you really just need.”
According to LeGrand, there is more to consider than just being able to afford groceries.
“Before, people didn’t have to think much about their food. They might just grab something on the way home or spend the money eating out. But now they really have to think about what they can afford to buy, what’s in their pantry, and how many people are in their household.”
Sometimes there isn’t enough, and that can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
“If a student has to skip meals, it really hurts their performance. They’re not thinking about what they’re studying, they’re thinking about their hunger. It can make them lose focus. They just can’t do what they need to do academically. They may get depressed. There are so many things that we don’t even think about that happens when we don’t eat.”
LeGrand believes that education could help solve a lot of issues that come from food insecurity.
“This could be a great opportunity for us to help students learn about food and nutrition. We could spend time with students in the dorms, or visit classrooms and talk about it. We really need to think about what we can do to make that happen.”
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available for students who may need help right now.
“Oregonhunger.org has a section just for college students. Many would qualify for SNAP, and that’s extra money that they wouldn’t normally have, just for food. Neighborimpact.org has programs too and they can get them help if they need it.”
There are resources available at COCC too.
“Word is getting out about the Community Cabinet, which is awesome. If anyone wants to pick up some food from any of our campuses all they need to do is reach out to Student Life at email@example.com and we can coordinate a pickup. Of course, it’s totally anonymous.”
Knowledge of the available resources is only one of the barriers to getting people help, sometimes people just don’t want to ask for it.
“I know people are very prideful. They may not want to say that they need help.” Says LeGrand “But without help from someone else, most people never got to where they needed to be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Please visit COCC.edu and check out the page for Help for Students in Need. All of these resources and more are linked there.”
LeGrand wants students to know that he can help.
“If anyone is experiencing food insecurity or needs access to resources to help them with school, please please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can help people find the freedom they need to do what they need to do.” Says Legrand.
“Because if you have peace of mind, life is good.”