Published: Oct. 24, 2023

students at Mobile Food PantryWhile people often joke about being a broke college student, nothing is funny about experiencing food or housing insecurity. The reality is that many students do not have the money to cover all of their expenses, which can impact their living situation and food supply. 

At CU Boulder, the Basic Needs Center offers support to students facing food and housing insecurity. Students can access the Buff Pantry once per week to receive select grocery items of their choosing. The Basic Needs Center can also help students apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to support their food budget. Students facing housing insecurity can find support through the center’s case management support, emergency housing fund, educational programs and referrals to services. 

The week of Nov. 11-18 is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, an annual event to raise awareness of the problems of hunger and homelessness. In honor of this awareness week, here are five ways to help a friend experiencing food or housing insecurity. 

Be mindful of the stigma 

One of the biggest hurdles preventing students from reaching out for or accepting support is the stigma surrounding food and housing insecurity. While it can feel isolating, students who face these issues are not alone. According to the 2021 Hope Center Survey, three out of five students experience food or housing insecurity while attending higher education. 

You can help normalize the experience and combat the stigma by listening or observing non-judgmentally. 

Learn about resources and programs 

You can educate yourself to be a more effective ally. Part of being able to help others is understanding the available resources and methods of support. The Basic Needs Center website offers resources for food and housing support. They also provide workshops and training to help students learn about money management, cooking basics and housing tips. 

You can review resources and attend events to expand your knowledge and equip yourself to help others. Then, you can share those resources. 

Go together 

Seeking help can feel less intimidating if you go with a friend. You can offer your support by going together to the Basic Needs Center. You can also sign up for an educational event or one of the monthly Ralphie’s Cooking Basics cooking classes with a friend. 

Not only does this show your support and increase your awareness of hunger and housing issues, but it can also help reduce the stigma. 

Refer a friend 

If you are worried about a peer, you can refer them to Student Support and Case Management (SSCM). To make a referral, you can fill out an outline form, call 303-492-7348 or email Someone from Student Support and Case Management will view the form and either alert the Basic Needs Center to reach out or have one of their case managers reach out. 

You can also offer to go to SSCM together to support that person as they seek help. 

Volunteer your time 

You can support the Basic Needs Center by donating, organizing a food drive or volunteering to help with the Buff Pantry or a mobile food bank to see first-hand how the programs work. You can also connect with the Volunteer Resource Center or explore opportunities on CUServes to find other ways to support food or housing insecurity. 

Find support for food and housing insecurity 

If you or someone you know is dealing with food or housing insecurity, you are not alone. It’s important to remember that college students often struggle with these issues, and you can find support at CU Boulder and in the community. As a CU Boulder student, you can connect with the Basic Needs Center or SSCM. You can also refer a friend to connect them to resources.