>But it sounds like an absurd example of a false economy: Even at relatively cheap schools, the cost of running a student through is nontrivial. It seems like complete insanity to waste expensive instructional time on somebody who can't concentrate properly for want of a few dollars worth of calories. Nobody's interests are well served by that.
The cost is to the student, not to the institution. It doesn't cost the institution more to educate a hungry student, even if they can't think as well.
I see it as part of the challenge of going to college. I made $18k a year in grad school working as a TA, while living in San Diego. From that, I had to pay for books, car/gas/insurance/registration fees, rent, food, and everything else. Which wasn't easy. But I did it, and graduated from college with only about four thousand dollars in student loans, and that I had to take out because my car's engine and transmission went out within three weeks of each other and I had to put them on my credit card.
It was like a game to me. I had a budget of $10 or less per day for food. Two $1 bacon cheeseburgers and a $1 frosty for lunch, a $4 bowl of rice and orange chicken for dinner, and I still had enough left over for a snack at night or in the afternoon. The next day I'd get a $5 footlong for lunch, and four tacos for $2 for dinner, and so forth.
People who are just eating Top Ramen are just doing it wrong, in my opinion.