The running joke with my friends is "y'all take SNAP?" Loading up on triple-macchiatos, buying toilet paper, getting a box of hair dye from the CVS. "I don't have Venmo, you take SNAP?" after a road trip. It's a silly, albeit dark poke at our situation as young, college educated people who live under the poverty line.
We're not alone. In 2017, the Pew Research Center found that Millennials are more impoverished than any other demographic. We rent, cohabit, and support families as single parents at high rates. A third of us have received or are currently on government benefit programs. We're also the largest demographic in the workforce and more likely to hold a Bachelor's degree than our parents. Debt and underemployment are constant struggles for many of us.
Why is it then, that we don't talk about Millennial hunger? News outlets love to keep track of our weird food trends (like sushi burritos and Sriracha ketchup) and our obsession with health, but the conversation is rarely turned toward our growing food insecurity. Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab published a survey earlier this year that found 36 percent of college students are food insecure. Community college students are even more food insecure, with 42 percent reporting that they had trouble getting adequate food. Campus food pantries and SNAP application assistance help alleviate these problems, but a lack of information and a culture of shame around asking for help keeps many young people from receiving the assistance they need.
My parents and colleagues joke when they serve me food, "it's No Kid Hungry, it should be No Haley Hungry." They're not far off. While we support our children, we shouldn't lose sight of the young people around us facing the same problems. We're all somebody's kid.
PRC AmeriCorps VISTA serving with Montana No Kid Hungry