Some aspects of college—like learning to live with roommates, pulling all-nighters, and exploring career opportunities—have remained consistent over the decades. However, the demographics of the typical college student are shifting. More students from low-income households are attending college, and “traditional” full-time students, who enrolled immediately after high school graduation and remained financially dependent, make up less than one third of all undergraduates.[1] This means that more college students are financially independent, over the age of 21, work full- or part-time, or are responsible for dependents. Combined with rising education costs, many college students are facing the troubling reality of being food insecure. And as the coronavirus continues to sweep across the nation, millions more people are left wondering where their next meal will come from.

Academic research has revealed that more than half of undergraduates have food access problems, which include disrupted eating patterns and a decline in food intake.[2] As part of our commitment to help these students and to address food insecurity across our communities, Anthem and the Anthem Foundation are taking action.

To expand assistance and resources to community college students, we have issued a new grant to the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FoundationCCC) and have renewed our partnership with Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE).

These grants will fund new programming to help address students’ basic needs in the wake of COVID-19, raise awareness about student food insecurity, and provide low-income students with access to nutritious food and other resources. Additionally, the funding will create and expand food pantries on college campuses, and enable new, targeted initiatives designed to help students succeed in training programs and reach their career goals.

Though it is an issue that has often flown under the radar, the harrowing reality of food insecurity and hunger among college students is being recognized as a pressing issue. No person should have to choose between food and other necessities like prescriptions, utility bills, or education. Anthem is committed to helping address our national crisis by partnering with prominent organizations to provide greater access to healthy, nutritious foods and create programming to ensure students have the opportunity to succeed.  Together, we are bringing awareness and truly making a difference.

[1] Better Information Could Help Eligible College Students Access Federal Food Assistance Benefits. United States Government Accountability Office. 2018.

[2] Majority of College Students Experience Food Insecurity, Housing Insecurity, or Homelessness. Association of American Colleges and Universities. 2019.