As thousands of young adults bid farewell to summer and hello to the rigors of a new college year, they arrive prepared with books, binders and big goals for a successful year. Unfortunately, too many of them also arrive hungry.

A survey conducted by Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community and Justice found that nearly 39% of 167,000 students nationwide at two- or four-year schools had experienced food insecurity in the last 30 days*. Most of these young adults are not properly nourished, and therefore lack the necessary nutrients to grow and learn. Studies have shown how this nutrition deficit contributes to higher rates of depression and decreased cognitive function in comparison to their counterparts.

Second Harvest serves 14 Orange County college pantries that help an average of 7,696 student households per month to stock up on fresh produce, eggs, milk, protein and select nonperishables. In addition, some offer clothing for jobseekers, hygiene items, cooking classes, housing referrals, emergency housing assistance and life skills.

We are working hard to ensure all young minds in Orange County are fueled and primed for learning. It’s an honor to be nourishing the success of our community, starting in the classroom.

*The Hope Center: #RealCollege 2020: Five Years of Evidence on Campus Basic Needs Insecurity