California Community College Students Struggle With Food, Housing Insecurity: Survey

A 2023 survey found that 2 out of every 3 students who attend a California community college struggle with basic needs insecurity.
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Margaret Attridge is a news reporter for BestColleges focusing on higher education news stories in California. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in May 2022 with a BA in journalism and government and politics....
Published on October 5, 2023
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  • A survey of California Community College students found that many students continue to grapple with basic needs insecurity.
  • Half of the students surveyed are food insecure, and almost 3 out of 5 are housing insecure.
  • While food insecurity rates have declined slightly since the last survey in 2019, housing insecurity remains a prominent issue.

Two out of every 3 California community college students face at least one basic needs insecurity, including food and housing insecurity, according to a recent report from the Community College League of California.

While the rate of food insecurity fell slightly from 50% in 2019, the last time the survey was taken, to 47% in 2023, 3 out of 5 respondents reported being housing insecure, with around 1 in 4 reporting being homeless.

As stewards of California's community college system, it's both our duty and privilege to address the stark realities faced by our students ..., Tammeil Gilkerson, task force co-chair and president of Evergreen Community College, said in a press release about the report. These challenges are not just statistics; they are the lived experiences of our students.

The survey was conducted by the RP group, a research and planning group for California Community Colleges, and the affordability, food, and housing task force of the Community College League of California.

Just over half of the respondents were worried about food running out before they could afford to buy more, and a third reported decreasing portion sizes and eating less than they wanted to because of finances.

Students who identify as LGBTQ+ had much higher rates of food and housing insecurity compared to 2019, especially among transgender students, 74% of whom reported being food insecure in 2023, 78% reported being housing insecure, and 64% reported being homeless.

African American or Black students, along with American Indian or Alaskan Native students, also reported high rates of basic needs insecurity.

Additionally, students who have children, are single parents, have been divorced, grew up in foster care, have served in the military, and have been convicted of a crime were also more likely to report basic needs insecurity.

This survey tells us that students continue to struggle with food insecurity as well as stable, affordable housing, Andra Hoffman, trustee for the Los Angeles Community College District and president of the California Community College Trustees Board of Directors, said in the release.

We should be truly concerned when students are saying that they skip meals or ate less than they needed because they simply could not afford food. As California Community College system leaders, we can spotlight these voids. But more importantly, we can ensure that our districts, colleges, and communities take action to prevent them.