Leaders in student success know that the number of college students experiencing basic needs insecurity is much higher than the general public would expect. A recent national survey of college students conducted by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice found that 45% of respondents had been food insecure in the previous 30 days, and 56% had been housing insecure in the last year. The same survey found that rates of basic needs insecurity are consistently higher among marginalized populations, including students of color, first-generation college students, former foster youth, students who have been convicted of a crime, and PELL grant recipients.
Institutions across the country have invested in creating structures that support students’ basic needs by launching food pantries, community kitchens, providing childcare, mental and physical healthcare services, financial assistance, and transportation to bridge this gap and provide a foundation of basic needs security. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has strained structures that students rely upon to support their basic needs, putting students at significant risk physically, mentally, and academically.
USU recently convened university leaders in student affairs, academic affairs, student success, student health, and wellness to listen, learn and discuss strategies for continuing to support students’ basic needs during this time and into the future. Strategies discussed included:
Proactive outreach to students (through calls and surveys) to identify their most immediate needs
Using technology to develop online ordering systems for food pantries and partnering with local business to deliver food to students
Conducting webinars with community donors to increase funding for emergency aid grants and developing innovative systems to deliver funds quickly using apps
Below are resources to support the development and expansion of programming to address students’ basic needs: