Seven in 10 full-time workers in the University of California school system struggle to put food on the table, according to a new Occidental College study.
The lead researcher of the study, Professor Peter Dreier, surveyed 2,890 UC employees who work in clerical, administrative and support service positions. Across the 10-campus system, which is the third largest employer in California, 45 percent of the participating employees reported to have gone hungry at times. On average, those surveyed make $22.65 an hour.
"Either they have to compromise on the quality of the food of their diet or they have to trade off making their rent and buying food," Dreier said in an interview. "And some of them are hungry, some of them have to skip meals."
Annenberg Media reached out to the University of California, Los Angeles, payroll office, but they declined to comment.
Dreier got the inspiration to conduct the study after a separate report found that 40 percent of UC students do not have a reliable source of nutritious food. He found that 70 percent of surveyed UC employees struggle from the same food insecurity as the students. In comparison, only 12.6 percent of households in all of California struggle from food insecurity; 12.7 percent of households struggle across the country.
"You know, the stereotype is that these are people who are down on their luck, but these aren't people who are down on their luck," Dreier said. "These are people with full-time jobs. The only thing that is unlucky is that they do not make enough money."
The UC system has created a food support system for struggling students and employees. They have access to food pantries, cooking lessons, donations and emergency funding. Nonetheless, Dreier believes the system could be doing more to rid the rampant food insecurity across campus.
"The last thing they need is more charity. They do not need charity they need justice," Dreier said. "You know they do not need help from the university about how to budget their money better, they need better wages and salaries. They do not need food banks, they need decent salaries."