When I was a student, there were many semesters when I spent less on food than on school books. I learned, from experience, that starvation is sometimes better than the 50th serving of lentils in a row, that there are only so many ways that ramen can be prepared, that $20 worth of raw materials can translate into a month's worth of hummus, and that sugar packets "liberated" from the local Burger King can be used to make Kool-aid, yielding a refreshing, almost free source of Vitamin C.
I had always considered myself an expert at the art of super-cheap college eating, but I recently realized that I had only scraped the tip of the iceberg. According to a recent article, the tough economy has pushed many students to frequent food banks and apply for food stamps. Some were doing so because they were trying to work their way through college on loans and part-time jobs, while others simply didn't want to ask their parents for money.
While it's nice to know that food stamps are an option for independent students who are desperately trying to make ends meet, I have to admit that I'm a little disgusted by the idea of affluent college kids gaming the system for a little extra money, particularly when the recession has left so many people in desperate need of a little help!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He still has nightmares about lentils.
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