In the coming weeks, thousands of college students will walk across a stage and proudly accept their diplomas. Many of them will be hungry.
Thus the New York Times in an article entitled “Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry.”(1) The article tells the stories of some of the “45 percent of student respondents from over 100 institutions [who] said they had been food insecure in the past 30 days.”
I would like to offer those undernourished graduates-to-be the wish that they have enough strength in their legs to make it to the podium to collect their sheepskins. However, I must—in all honesty—warn them that their lunchless days are not going to disappear if they follow the advice offered in an article in USA TODAY entitled “You don't need that: Average American spends almost $18,000 a year on nonessentials.”(2) In that piece Maurie Backman of The Motley Fool provides a list that purports to show “How Americans spend on luxuries” and urges us to ditch, among other things, our ride shares and our gym memberships. (One imagines that we can get our exercise by walking from one end of town to the other.) But most striking about the alleged luxuries to be dumped is lunch, which is claimed to cost $173.62 per month. And what is one to do with the money not spent? Why, buy life insurance, say the folks behind the information-gathering (who just happen to be in the business of selling? that’s right, life insurance).(3)
A week ago, the Warwick, Rhode Island school district told students with unpaid bills they had only one choice for meals: a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich.(4) That announcement raised an almighty wrong-headed tsunami of protests—to which the school district reacted by abandoning the new policy. You perhaps are wondering why I wrote “wrong-headed”? The new policy would have been for those students perfect preparation for their real world future. From unappetizing sunflower butter and jelly to the hunger of college to lunchless workdays—what a seamless transition!
But they have no reason to despair at what life holds for them: at the end of it all, there will be some insurance money to pass on to their descendants.
(2) https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/05/07/americans-spend-thousands-on nonessentials/39450207/
(3) For a takedown of this article, see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/09/capitalist-overlords-lunch-usa-today
(4) Not even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/08/us/rhode-island-lunch-money.html