The popular myth that college students gain weight during their freshman year is decidedly untrue for a significant portion of the college population. A new survey finds that 36% of college students in the US don't get enough to eat, the Washington Post reports. The survey, carried out by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, found that 9% of students at 2-year institutions and 6% of students at 4-year institutions had gone a full day without eating in the month prior to the survey because they lacked enough money for food; 14% and 11%, respectively, said they had lost weight due to not having enough money for food. The percentages get higher for the less drastic, but still disturbing, questions: 46% and 40%, respectively, said they couldn't afford to eat balanced meals.
The survey used the Department of Agriculture's criteria for measuring hunger. Researchers say hunger on college campuses is a growing, yet mostly hidden, problem; their survey also found that 36% of college students were "housing insecure" in the year prior to the survey—and 9% were homeless. The problem? Not only are college costs increasing, but, experts say, aid packages aren't good enough, more low-income students are enrolling, competition for low-wage jobs is increasing, and colleges aren't willing to admit there is a problem. This survey involved 43,000 students at 66 campuses; other, smaller surveys have found similar results. "The numbers are amazing," says the CEO of LA-based nonprofit Swipe Out Hunger. "It helps us make the case to universities that they need to do something about this."