January 31, 2023

Food insecurity is a significant issue affecting New Jersey residents that should not be overlooked. As a matter of fact, 1 out of 5 of families with children in New Jersey are food insecure. This problem is even more pronounced at Rutgers. A 2016 study led by Cara Cuite, an associate counseling specialist in the Department of Human Ecology, for example found that about 1 of 3 Students at Rutgers struggle to afford food.

These statistics underscore the importance of this issue and urge us and the university to take action and help struggling students and families. While these concerns require increased legislative action, there are efforts in the Rutgers area that we should all be aware of that should encourage the university to get involved in similar initiatives.

For example, right on the College Avenue campus, the College Avenue Community Church runs the Two Fishes Brunch program offer Rutgers students and their families will receive free weekday meals for the remainder of this semester and into the spring semester.

The church has a history of supporting the Rutgers community. You have for example provided Resources ranging from testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to counseling services to students. To maintain and enhance these actions, Rutgers students can volunteers in the church to help with their mutual aid projects. Another organization that Rutgers student food pantryprovides resources for students as long as they present their Rutgers ID cards.

If these smaller organizations can tackle such big problems, Rutgers should be doing more than a large public university with greater support capacity and a greater range of networks or resources available to students.

While the university has some initiatives focused on giving back to the community, more can be done. Currently, Rutgers students can donate up to 10 guest meals at the end of the semester that go back to the community and help individuals who are going hungry.

The university should expand this program to include regular meal rewards, and there should be a clear formula for understanding how such donations are used. The donations could be turned into financial support for food banks or expanded to donate food or other items directly to pantries.

It is also important to mention that experiencing food insecurity can sometimes be alienating, so students and individuals more broadly may feel embarrassed to admit their problems or ask for help. As such, Rutgers should help spread initiatives designed to help the community.

Simply sending a blast of email would make hungry students feel heard and also make them aware of the resources available to them.

These actions would signal that Rutgers invests in the community and its students. In a broader sense, such an approach would clearly show that food insecurity is receiving significant attention. It would strongly help realize the university’s commitment to building a “beloved community”.

An important element in fighting hunger is ensuring access to quality and nutritious food. When individuals do not have access to fresh produce and otherwise healthy food, there are significant health consequences.

Students at Rutgers may not have easy access to grocery stores. Although there are some, such as Fresh Food Market or Bravo Supermarkets, students are generally unaware of them or cannot easily access them. The Fresh Food Market is located on Hamilton Street near the College Avenue campus, while Bravo Supermarkets are located on George Street in New Brunswick.

The university should communicate better where supermarkets are. Regardless, investments in transportation that make it easier for students to reach grocery stores should increase. Whether it’s an expansion of the bus system or the implementation of a new shuttle, Rutgers should consider ways to get students to supermarkets and fresh produce.

Another alternative might be to hold Farmers’ Markets on College Avenue a few times a year. This way, students have access to fresh produce right on campus, and it can inspire them to remember the importance of a nutritious diet, such as: B. the farmers markets in Highland Park and on the Cook and Douglass campuses.

Ultimately, food insecurity issues speak to how we exist in the community. There are many ways we can work together to come together and support each other. As we become more engaged members – both at Rutgers and within New Brunswick – we can uplift as many individuals as possible and strengthen the entire community as a whole.

The Daily Targum editorials represent the views of the majority of the 154th Editorial Board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of Targum Publishing Company or its employees.

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