Transcript: My name is Carly Smith, I am eighteen years old, and I am a human development major at the University of California, Davis. As a student on the UC Davis campus, I am at the dining commons a lot (more than I would like to admit). Because of this, I am aware of the food security issues we have here on campus. After observing the dining commons and researching the issue of food security on college campuses, I became even more informed about the issue and discovered ways food insecurity be solved. When I walk into the dining commons on the UC Davis campus, I am instantly met with sensory overload. I see crowds of students who can’t wait to load their plates up with noodles and pizza. I can smell the smell of potatoes and chicken wafting over from a nearby plate. I can hear silverware clinking and music drowned out by the voices of students. It is impossible not to overhear conversations about midterms, essays, grades, and teachers. It is equally impossible not to overhear conversations about food. “This is going to have to be my lunch and dinner,” one girl states, staring at her plate. Another mentions that she has to eat up because she is saving her swipes. I see groups of students so hungry that they barely talk to each other the whole meal, but instead focus on filling themselves with as much food as possible. Multiple students have upwards of four and five plates of food. They go through them quickly, as if they are animals in the wild, unsure when their next meal might be. On my way out, I notice the prices for meals. 8, 9, 10 dollars for one meal at the dining commons. Students pile their plates high with french fries, salad, and noodles; but, I can’t help but wonder, how many students on campus go hungry? How many students are so worried about money that they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from? How many students are in similar positions to that girl I quoted earlier? My experience in the dining hall was probably one of many in which students are forced to choose between food and debt. Food insecurity is a big problem on college campuses. It is defined in the Webster dictionary as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” In the case of college students, food insecurity might manifest itself in a student who has to choose between books or food for the month. It also includes students who feel the need to stock up on food so that they can skip meals to save money, as I saw when I was in the dining commons. In a University of Minnesota statewide survey, about 15 percent of students said they didn’t feel like they had a steady source of food. Students need food in order to do the best they can in college and beyond. Nearly two-fifths or 38.5 percent of all students surveyed fall within the overweight or obese/extremely obese categories. Ed Ehlinger is the head of the University of Minnesota Boynton’s health service. He believes that colleges need to do more to address food insecurity because of the effects that young people will have on this country as a whole. "College students are a large and growing population and are establishing lifestyles and behavior patterns, they are the trendsetters and the role models for younger people and they are the future leaders of our society. That is why we need to make them a priority," Ehlinger said. (University of Minnesota, 2007) In other words, students (like I saw in the DC) who feel the need to overeat at a meal in order to skip the next meal will grow into adults who do the same. This could develop into bad eating habits for a whole generation. A University of Cincinnati study had similar results. 22 percent of students in this survey said they had low levels of food security. According to this report, “colleges should pursue a wide range of creative ways to address food insecurity, including the creation of campus food pantries, campus community gardens, food recovery programs and coordinated benefits access programs.” (Reutters, 2016) Such programs help students like the ones I saw in the dining commons who don’t know where their next meal will come from. It allows them to feel more safe in the fact that they know that, if need be, there is a place they can go to get food for free. The UC Davis campus provides many programs in order to address the food insecurity problems on campus. The Pantry, located at Freeborn Hall, is a basement room filled with food and personal care items in which students can swipe in with their ID cards. The Pantry is a student run organization that relies on donations from students and community members. Aggie Meal Share is another program that aims to help students who may not have the means to pay for meals in the dining commons. It offers financial aid in the form of swipes and also gives students the option to donate dining commons swipes to the less fortunate. There is also the Davis Community Meals program, in which free meals are given out to community members in need. This program is similar to a soup kitchen in that anyone can drop in (students, seniors, the homeless) and get a meal. We may have an issue on campus with food insecurity, but as I mentioned, there are many ways to get around this issue. Many students may feel as though it is embarrassing to ask for help getting access to nutritious but, in actuality, it is far from something to be embarrassed about. We, as college students, need to address these issues and work on them with our peers. It is imperative that we do this instead of sweeping these issues under the rug because, as Ed Ehlinger said, we are the role models and future leaders of society.