On-campus food pantries support upward mobility

In a story in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Miriam Jordan wrote that since the recession began in 2008, food pantries have been increasing in number on college campuses.

This willingness to make college living easier and more accessible to students is commendable for many reasons. Food security can be a problem for college students, who often do not have the available resources to afford both cost of living and a college education. Food pantries are an ideal way to solve this problem.

With the cost of tuition, room, board, and textbooks soaring in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to afford college. To make things worse, the economic recovery has taken the form of upwards redistribution. People who were already well off are starting to get back to and beyond those levels, while everyone else struggles to recoup their losses from the economic collapse.

This means a college education is even more inaccessible to low income and even middle class families than previously. As a result, many college students are left to cover both tuition and the cost of living on their own, since their families are unable to help.

Unable to both support themselves and continue a college education, many students are forced to drop out of college. Even scholarships, which reduce the burden of tuition, often do not cover the cost of living expenses.

A college education is extremely helpful for upward mobility. The ability for people to succeed despite their family’s economic status is important; it both allows for an equal playing field in society and a larger number of capable and qualified people to enter the workforce.

For this reason, a college education should never be impossible because someone lacks the financial resources to achieve one. Financial aid is good for this, but it doesn’t always go far enough.

At Carnegie Mellon, where tuition is among the highest in the country, this issue is especially pressing. Food pantries allow for access to an important resource and reduce another barrier to a college education — that’s better for everyone.