An attitude of gratitude
People often make assumptions about University of Michigan students. They are brainiacs. Some say they are arrogant (don’t look at me). A lazy observer would even write them off as privileged and entitled.
But hungry? Or should I say, food insecure?
That one doesn’t appear on the list.
COVID-19 certainly has exposed cracks in our jacked-up American economy. We’ve all seen the lines of cars snaking through parking lots toward food distribution centers. We’ve watched the interviews where college-educated professionals explain they never expected to be in this position.
Now imagine you’re a Michigan student in 2020 literally broke and unsure of your next meal. Seriously. We’re not talking about the cartoonish “starving student” surviving on ramen and free happy-hour snacks. This is hardcore food insecurity, with enough power to derail one’s education and future success.
COVID didn’t bring food insecurity to U-M. A host of social and economic pitfalls have long conspired to hold back the “not rich” kids, the first-generation students, and the international students who often require more institutional support from U-M than their more-established peers.
As we approach Thanksgiving, a holiday literally designed around a meal, let’s remember these food-insecure students and how hard they aspire to the Michigan ideal under some of the most stressful conditions. Even more important, let’s support the researchers, faculty, staff, and students who are cooking up strategies and solutions to end this problem.
This month, I visited the Maize & Blue Cupboard, a free food pantry in Betsy Barbour. I met and spoke to a number of food justice warriors on campus. I am heartened by their creative thinking and collective ability to develop actionable scholarship while actually putting food in people’s mouths.
I have no assumptions to make. I know these people are simply the best.