The promise of the public university has long been that students could receive an affordable education, subsidized by the taxpayers. But with out of control tuition costs and mounting loan debt, students everywhere are now so poor that they resort to food shelters to keep from starving to death, according to the Associated Press.
Food banks affiliated with the College and University Food Bank Alliance have appeared on over 50 campuses, according to Nate Smith-Tyge, who directs the food bank at Michigan State University.
“A lot of schools are coming to the realization that this is important,” said Smith-Tyge in a statement to the AP.
Stony Brook University, a public university in New York, opened up a food bank to help hungry students supplement their meals. When the food bank opened up last September, it already had 50 students waiting in line.
Tuition at Stony Brook is almost $20,000 per year.
“The food pantry allows us to have something extra in case you get hungry,” said Greeshma Johnson, a Stony Brook student, in a statement. “Every year, tuition gets a little higher.”
Other students rely on their attendance at university events where food is provided free of charge. For many, “free pizza night” at the inaugural events of certain student clubs saves a costly trip to the grocery store.
While Smith-Tyge praised the work universities were doing to establish food banks, economist Richard Vedder said it was “a little bit hypocritical,” for colleges to be so self-congratulatory.
“They wouldn’t need pantries if they hadn’t raised prices,” said Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. (RELATED: University presidents rake in millions while students flounder)
Vedder has long made the argument that the cost of a college degree has outstripped its worth, thanks to endless, reckless spending undertaken by college administrators. Universities have continued building fancier dormitories and engaging in what he describes as an “athletics arms race” to have the best sports team, even though most universities lose money on such endeavors.
Administrative bloat is also a contributing problem. While faculty employee levels and salaries have largely remained flat–or even fallen–both private and public universities have greatly expanded the number of non-teaching middle managers on campus.
Meanwhile, universities have driven up tuition to fund such luxuries as expensive sports stadiums, opulent dorms for rich out-of-state students and permanent professional bureaucracies.
But if it’s any consolation, at least now students can pick up a free can of soup or box of macaroni at their campus’s local food bank.