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Chobani partnering with nonprofit to help fight college hunger

Posted at 5:20 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 13:55:02-05

MAGIC VALLEY — One in ten Americans face food insecurity, but for college students, that issue is even worse.

More than 30% of college students face hunger issues, which can impact students' mental health and in some cases, lead them to drop out.

To help fight this issue and ensure college students don't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, Chobani is partnering with Swipe out hunger to help fund food security efforts at 23 different colleges.

“We came across this issue of one in three college students facing some type of hunger issues which just rattled us. It just doesn’t even make any sense, and we said hey, we’d like to do our part and help build awareness," Peter McGuinness, President, and COO of Chobani said.

One of the problems with fighting college hunger has been a lack of awareness on this issue.

“It’s this stigma of well, if I’m a college student, I’m not supposed to be hungry. I’m supposed to be the type of person that has this taken care of, whether it’s through my parents or financial aid. But we know that one in four students in college right now are parents," Rachel Sumekh, Founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger, said.

According to Feeding America, more than 70% of college students are nontraditional, meaning they enrolled part-time in school and working full-time. 14% of students are also single parents, and on top of the rising education costs, many adult students are struggling to make ends meet.

“So I think the first thing you have to do is break down those stereotypes. Not all college kids are ok, and not all college kids have means, and not all college kids are 18-21. So then when you start to unpack that and break that down, you can start to understand why 1 in 3 can be hungry," McGuinness said.

College hunger is an issue Swipe Out Hunger has been fighting since 2010. The organization started after founder and CEO Rachel Sumekh, along with friends, noticed the issue first-hand.

“For us, it was just starting with seeing our hungry friends, helping to start a food pantry and as word got out about what we were doing hundreds of campuses have reached out saying we have hungry students too my friends are food insecure. How do we do something about this," Sumekh said.

For Sumekh, she says this issue hits close to home.

“My parents came to this country with a dream, and it was because of programs like free school lunch that they had a piece of mind that their kids are fed and they went off and achieved the American dream. Now in America we provide this dream of the college degree and what pathway that opens up for you and so our hope is that we can see that dream delivered on," Sumekh said.

With the help of Swipe Out Hunger, Chobani is funding food security efforts at 23 colleges through Idaho and New York State.

“Our goal is to end college student hunger. It is solvable. It’s a specific period of time, people are hungry. Feed them while they’re in school help them graduate and we’ll have a stronger country for it," Sumekh said.

For more information you can visit Swipe Out hunger's website.