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FOODBEAST Hit-Or-Miss

Starving College Students Turn To Food Stamps, Food Pantries For Help

Most of us have memories of struggling as a broke college student. In my case, I remember going through weeks of school, surviving off boxes of cereal, Cup Noodles, and dollar pizzas. I never thought twice of the lack of nutrition I was getting, and simply put it aside as part of the poor college student experience.

Of course, during my freshman year, I had access to the dining hall because, as a residential student, I was required to purchase a meal plan. The cheapest meal plan was about $3,000 and offered 10-14 swipes a week into the main dining hall and some odd “points” that could be used like cash at convenience stores. Looking back on it, it was a complete rip-off.

To be fair, I used my meal plan often, but it was always a last resort for me, as it also was for my fellow schoolmates. We were basically served the same food everyday besides the special of the day, it was always overcrowded, and it wasn’t very accommodating to those with food allergies or specific diets. Simply put, there was an overabundance of fried, greasy foods and not enough fresh whole foods.

I had no idea then, but I now realize that I was experiencing food insecurity. And you  or your someone you know probably experienced it yourself, too.

So how has decent food become such an actual luxury for students?

For a growing number of college students nationwide, food continues to be just that: a basic human need that has been put on the back burner due to college tuitions and fees, rent, and school supplies. According to the Washington Examiner, “college expenses have risen exponentially — so much so that Pell Grants, which used to cover about 75% of the cost of attendance at a public four-year college for lower-income students, now cover only about 30% of expenses.”

Unfortunately, as long as college tuitions continue to steadily rise, food insecurity amongst students will as well. The main concern is, however, that these food insecurity issues create a rippling effect for even more problems. According to that same article, a survey found that “64 percent of these food insecure students faced some form of housing insecurity and 15 percent reported experiencing some form of homelessness in the past 12 months. Faced with this reality, these students are forced to pick up extra shifts, even if it means missing class, and some are dropping out.”

With limited options and access to decent food, college students are now turning to food stamps or food pantries on campus for help.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a University of California survey of 9,000 students from all 10 campuses showed that 19% said that they had too little to eat due to limited resources, while around 23% ate substandard food with little variation and limited nutrition.

According to that same article, more than 500 UC Berkeley students have applied for food stamps since January, up from 111 in all of 2016, and just 41 the year before. The food stamps, also known as CalFresh, allow eligible students to obtain up to $192 worth of groceries a month.

The CalFresh website for UC Berkeley states that students must meet income requirements, be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, be enrolled as at least a half time student, and work a minimum of 80 hours a month to be eligible for food stamps.

For those who may not meet those requirements but still struggle with food insecurity, on-campus food pantries have also become a popular aid for struggling students.

For instance, in Rutgers University-Camden in New Jersey, there’s a food pantry that gives their students free donated food, no financial questions asked. Stocked with cereals, canned goods, and other staples like milk, eggs, and bread, students are welcome to take around five pounds of food at a time, according to NJ.com.

Although many of the students who visit the pantry are those who are from a low-income background, the pantry is open to everybody. This allows students who may feel food insecurity in-between paychecks or those who had to use all their earned money on a medical or personal emergency still have access to enough food until their next pay day.

UC Berkeley also has a food pantry to “provide emergency relief to help students continue on to successfully complete and obtain their degrees.” They’ve also experienced a huge spike in students taking advantage of these resources, recording 1,549 unique visitors for September only, according to the SF Chronicle.

Clearly, many schools nationwide are stepping up to help ease the snowballing of these student hunger problems. Although their efforts are commendable, many schools are just starting to create programs that are too premature to say for certain if they are sustainable. Perhaps a real solution to end food insecurity for students may not be to add more resources, but to take a long hard look at the schools’ integral budgeting system.

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Alcohol Drinks Feel Good News Toasty

Simple Vodka Fights Hunger In America With “1 Drink = 1 Meal” Philosophy

It always feels good to give back. Whether that’s donating a few dollars or simply time, it leaves a warm feeling in your heart. And now, buying Simple Vodka will warm your heart and so much more.

The vodka has a single goal: to fight hunger in America.  According to its founders, Danny Lafuente and Dan Maslow, the idea was to create a farm-to-bottle vodka with a business model that results in the donation of 20 meals per bottle produced — effectively, one meal per drink — through partnerships with local and national hunger relief programs. Since launching in Florida, New York, and California this May, Simple has donated more than 29,000 meals and aims for a goal of achieving 30 million meals annually by 2020.

In addition to doing good, Simple is made well. Handcrafted and distilled in Idaho, the vodka is made from locally sourced russet potatoes and fresh water from the Snake River aquifer. The gluten-free vodka supports sustainable, local production systems, as the distillery’s eco-friendly manufacturing methods include using sustainable energy sources, wastewater recycling, and byproduct upcycling. Its four-column fractional distillation process generates less energy and produces less waste than any other method, thereby allowing the vodka to be distilled only one time.

Recently, Simple received a Double Gold medal from the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, in recognition of the vodka’s high-quality, premium taste, flavor, and mixability.

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Culture Feel Good News Products

Company Plans To Provide One Million Meals To Haitian Children

I often discuss the food security issues that we have in the United States on Foodbeast, but it’s important to note that several other countries have it worse.

Haiti is a prime example of massive food insecurity. The small Caribbean island is in deep poverty, with the average Haitian living on less than a dollar per day. Hunger is a common feeling amongst adults and children in the island country.

To help satiate their hunger, several Haitians eat “mud cookies,” or sun-baked circles of mud and vegetable oil that fill their stomachs to fight off the hunger. Yikes.

Photo courtesy of Natierra.

Turns out that superfood company Natierra is hoping to make a massive impact on food security in the island nation by providing one million meals to children in Haiti.

Natierra CEO Thierry Ollivier was inspired during a business trip to Haiti last year to help the country’s children out. What’s more he’s gotten Natierra to team up with NGO charity Convoy of Hope to launch the “Feed A Soul” project at the recent Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim.

Photo courtesy of Natierra.

Here’s how it works: for every Natierra Himalania Superfoods bag sold, the company will give one meal to a Haitian child in need of food. The ultimate goal is to donate a million meals by 2018.

So far the campaign has already been successful in funding over 20,000 meals, but there’s definitely a lot of them left to give.

If you’re interested in helping out, all you have to do is go to a store carrying Natierra’s products and purchase a bag. Natierra sells a range of over twenty different superfoods, including cacao nibs, goji Berries, and chocolate-covered chia seeds. They’re available in stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Vons, Ralphs, and even on Amazon.

The next time you’re out stocking up on superfood snacks like chocolate-covered goji berries or hemp seeds, remember that you can help tackle food security in Haiti just by buying a Natierra bag.

I’m definitely down to help this amazing philanthropic effort.

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Hit-Or-Miss

This Dumpster Diver Found So Much Delicious Food In Manhattan Trash [WATCH]

The idea of dumpster diving has always made me cringe, frankly because I feel fortunate that things haven’t come push-to-shove for me when it comes to food insecurity. Not to say I can’t see comedian Jeff Seal’s point in his latest mini doc about dumpster diving in Manhattan, which essentially leads to an overall discussion of high cost of living and food waste.

In his quick video, he spends four nights digging through trash in NYC that has been left outside of major supermarkets and restaurants. Through the process, we get enlightened on the etiquette of dumpster diving while he scores package-after-package of totally edible and often delicious looking food that others have thrown away.

At one point particularly hilarious point, he stumbles on a bag of Sabra hummus only to mention that he doesn’t normally support the brand…but since it’s free, he’s not really supporting anything: