Implementation Guide: Addressing Students’ Basic Needs

Implementation Guide: Addressing Students’ Basic Needs

Tools to help the growing population of students struggling with food and housing insecurity

A recent study found that 36% of students at four-year institutions experience food insecurity. These students face serious challenges to academic success. In fact, one study found that basic needs-insecure students are 15 times more likely to fail a course than their peers and less than 20% will graduate within five years. As a result, institutional leaders increasingly recognize that they must do more to address basic needs security.

This toolkit—a partner to our forthcoming study publication—will help guide your institution’s work to support basic needs-insecure students, explore creative fundraising opportunities, and review progressive staffing options.

Within the toolkit you’ll find worksheets, guides, and more. Download the full toolkit or explore each tool individually below.

Most campuses have not conducted a formal survey to measure students’ food and housing insecurity. Without current data about the size of this student segment, it can be difficult to determine the correct course and scale of action to address students’ basic needs security in the near and long terms. Use this table to assess three options to measure students’ basic needs security.

A centralized web portal ensures information is shared efficiently across the campus community. It also serves as an on-demand reference point for both students and staff. The University of California Berkeley compiled resources into a single web hub. Check out their example and the subsequent step-by-step tool to build your own webpage to host information about on- and off-campus resources available to students.

To answer growing demand on campus, colleges and universities have experimented with a variety of options to address housing insecurity and homelessness among students. This tool provides an overview of possible options paired with considerations to assess which option might be best for your institution.

Many institutions already share important information with faculty and staff through a ‘411 folder’ that includes warning signs or indicators of concerning behavior. Adding information about basic needs challenges and resources is an easy way to integrate food and housing insecurity into an existing resource. Use the sample language and questions in this tool to draft the information you should include on your institution’s existing reference material.

Campus staff and faculty who encounter students facing food insecurity may be unaware of the best resources on campus to offer these students. While they staff and faculty might know where to find the information (e.g., looking online or calling the dean of students), these options take time. EAB recommends this information always be on hand for quick access. Use the example in this tool and the refining questions to create a basic needs referral card and a strategy for distribution and utilization.

The pamphlet shown in this tool accompanies the University of California, Los Angeles’s basic needs referral postcard as a more detailed source of information for students experiencing financial distress. It provides a brief explanation of the Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT), a straightforward overview of the ECRT process, and immediately accessible contact information.

As campus resources are increasingly limited, funding presents a significant barrier to expanding support for students’ basic needs. Refer to this list of funding opportunities and subsequent discussion questions to identify the best-fit options for your campus and guide your conversations with colleagues.

Growing demand for services to support students’ basic needs may require new positions or modifying existing positions. This tool presents a range of job descriptions for positions related to basic needs support.