College students are known to scrape by on meager meals like peanut butter sandwiches, cold cereal and ramen noodles. But as tuition skyrockets and family finances remain tight, some students are having trouble buying even such humble staples.
It's given rise to a small but growing trend: the campus food bank, where hungry students can get a free can of soup, box of oatmeal or package of spaghetti. A food pantry opens today at the University of California, Davis, following similar efforts at UCLA, Bakersfield College and Oregon State University.
"It's the most basic need of a student – to eat," said UC Davis student Ashley Thomas, who plans to use the pantry. "You can't study for a chemistry final if you're hungry."
I have no idea if young Ashley, or anyone else who plans to use the food pantry, is genuinely needy. I have no idea how much electronic equipment she owns, where she shops, or when the last time she visited Starbucks or Nugget Market (it's a nice one in Davis) was. I have no idea how much she herself pays for tuition, or if she lives in a dorm room or an apartment, or if she has a car. I have no idea if she has a job. But honestly, is a college student at a top California university truly so needy that he/she has to rely on charity just to eat?
A sign next to the service counter tells student volunteers how to help customers. Pantry volunteers must ask students seeking free food to show their student ID cards but don't record their names or ask about their finances. Students can visit the pantry as often as they like and can get enough food for three meals during each visit.
"We are a little concerned about people taking advantage," said Gold, 21. "But there's an inherent risk any time you start a new project, and there's so much overall benefit from this project that we're hoping it's worth the risk."
Who wouldn't go, just to save a few bucks that could be spent elsewhere?
Question this program, though, and you're a neoimperialist arrogant American. Who says so? Why, young Ashley herself, in one of the comments after the article. What are her exact words?
Ashley Thomas [Moderator] Today 11:17 AM
I am disappointed immensely with the callous judgments being free wheeled here. This project is aimed at the students who are skipping meals, and our 20 UC Davis students who are actually homeless. Our fees have been raised 43%, the economy sucks, and it gets harder and harder to "make it". I would like to run a fiscal evaluation on several of the commentators and wonder why they are all griping? Almost half the world lives on $2 a day, why don't you, instead of berating an altruistic effort, be inspired to look beyond your ultra-nourished, neoimperialist, arrogant US self and reach out to the rest of humanity.
Read that comment, and remember that I am helping pay for her education--if you can call it an education, based on her comments above.
Update, 1/17/10: Instalanche! Welcome, fellow Instapundit and NewsAlert readers! Please feel free to poke around the rest of my site (click on the blog title at the top of this post to do so). Whether you agree or disagree with what you see here, I hope it'll stimulate some thought and discussion.