It’s True. Hunger and Homelessness at MSU

By BRETT MARSHALL, CSU Public Relations Student Intern

It may not always be visible, but students at Minnesota State University, Mankato go hungry and homeless.

Nearly one-third, or 31.4 percent, of Minnesota State University, Mankato students missed nine or more meals this past semester according to statistical results of a recent student survey.

In a recent Centennial Student Union survey*, 574 students responded to a question about food insecurity that asked the number of meals a student reduced or missed due to lack of food or funds. Of those responding 12.2 percent indicated they had skipped 25 or more meals. Student ratios showed 8.2 percent missed 13-24 meals, 11 percent missed or reduced 9-12 meals during the past semester. Remaining results had 12.9 percent of students missing 4-8 meals and 18.1 percent missed 1-3 meals.

The majority of responding students, 216 or 37.6 percent said they did not miss any meals due to food insecurity.

The survey question by the Community Engagement Office sought to determine students facing hunger issues at Minnesota State Mankato. Karen Anderson, CEO director, said she’s seen nationally food insecurity statistics among students on college campuses ranging from 25 percent at the University of Hawaii to 59 percent at the University of Oregon.

Along with food insecurities, student homelessness is a concern for her’s and other offices on campus. She said she couldn’t comment too much more on campus homelessness “without breaking confidences.” She added those numbers are part of a state count collected each January. Actual numbers that include students may be skewed since many homeless find a shelter, are “doubling up” or are couch hopping.

Campus and Community Resource

The good news for students are the various university and community programs that help students dealing with tight budgets, shortage of food and homelessness.

Anderson wanted to make students aware of the Campus Cupboard, a free food shelf for University students. A student-organized food shelf that operates out the Crossroads Church campus ministry across the street from Wissink Hall at 331 Dillon Ave. Campus Cupboard is open Tuesdays from Noon to 3 p.m.

“Usually when you use a food pantry you might need to show proof of need or income, etc.,” she said. “Because we have a high percentage of students eligible for Pell Grants, Campus Cupboard has worked it out with Second Harvest that our school population qualifies without showing proof. Anyone with an MSU, Mankato student ID can get food on a weekly basis.”

In addition, Crossroads Church also offers $1 lunches every Tuesday. These lunches are open to the campus community.

Individuals can also provide financial support to Campus Cupboard by visiting its online donation page.

Anderson also wanted students to know about REACH, a local drop-in shelter for homeless Mankato youth between the ages of 16 and 24. The shelter is operated by Lutheran Social Service (LSS) out of St. Paul, which according to its website, “Helps thousands of young people every year, providing them with the support and resources they need to launch into a productive, healthy and independent life.”

The Mankato shelter is located at 125 East Liberty St. and is open Monday-Thursday between noon and 5 p.m.

Emergency Grant Program

Minnesota State Mankato now offers an Emergency Grant Program, highlighted in this week Serendipitous Moments video this new program offers emergency assistance through a grant from Great Lakes Higher Education.

University students with financial aid on record can apply for the grant when encountering a non-school related financial emergency. Visit the Emergency Grant website and click the Apply Today button. More information is available in the University Admissions Office located in the Taylor Center.

* The Centennial Student Union’s 2018 student survey randomly selected 3500 students. This year’s survey concluding March 1, 2018, had 24.6 percent response rate with 862 students taking the survey. 

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