It’s hard to study if you don’t have enough to eat

Dear President Trump,

I read this morning that about 36% of university students in the US deal with food insecurity and close to that proportion cope with unstable housing. Given the secrecy and shame around not having enough and not appearing to be ok, the numbers are probably underestimating the real extent of these problems. Also, as the WP article pointed out, colleges and universities are not exactly keen to admit their students struggle with hunger and whether they have a safe, stable place to live – those bits don’t make it into the glossy, personalized recruitment materials. Wouldn’t it have been amazing if even one school had sent a simple letter on plain stationary telling our daughter they were forgoing the high end marketing and instead using the money to fund a food bank for their students? But no, this is big business and the competition is fierce among schools, students, and parents. Everyone’s got to look good for the camera and put the best spin on their story.

Seeing all this up close over the past year has been sobering. Our daughter was bombarded with mail from at least a fifty different colleges and universities and that’s not counting the emails she got that we didn’t see. Some really did personalize things so that her name was incorporated into the imagery and all of them focused exclusively on the shiny happy people attending their institution. Now as she weighs her options, the stress around here is palpable and it’s laced through with the issue of paying for it all. I am aware that we are fortunate in many ways and together will be able to sort out some workable solutions that won’t leave our daughter wondering whether she will have enough to eat or a place to sleep, but it shouldn’t be this hard and kids shouldn’t be going hungry.

Last night we were talking about college stuff and at the end of the conversation my daughter told me where her various friends were admitted. I was so heartened by how happy she was for them, including those who got into schools she didn’t. There was no jealousy or resentment apparent at all. She’s not perfect and neither are her peers, but there’s an emotional maturity among this generation that’s giving me hope that we are going to be ok.

May we all have a safe, stable place to sleep.
May we all be happy to have a bit less so everyone can have enough.
May we all have enough healthy food to eat each day.
May we all keep shining lights into the hard places where changes are needed.

Tracy Simpson

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