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Keywords

Food Insecurity, Student Life, Hunger, College Campus, Food Assistance

Abstract

According to recent studies, food insecurity affects from 34%-59% of college students. This will continue to be an issue as tuition increases and more low-income and first-generation students enter universities and colleges. Nearly 52% of college students live at, or near, the poverty level, compared to a national poverty rate of 14.5%. This leaves many undergraduate and graduate students with challenging decisions around meeting their basic housing, nutritional, and educational expenses. To assess food insecurity at Kansas State University (KSU), a random sample of undergraduate and graduate students was surveyed. Findings include a high rate of food insecurity (44.3%) among respondents. This measure was calculated by summing the affirmative responses to the USDA short-form food security questions in the survey. This means that during a 7-month period during the 2016 to 2017 academic year, 44.3% of respondents experienced at least two of the following: 1) didn’t have enough food to last and didn’t have money to buy more, 2) couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals, 3) cut the size of or skipped meals, 4) ate less than they felt they should because they didn’t have enough money, or, 5) were hungry and didn’t eat. This finding is consistent with other studies that report food insecurity rates between 34% and 59% at U.S. universities and community colleges. Fifty-seven percent of respondents were generally aware that food insecurity is a significant problem on college campuses. A majority of respondents (63%) reported that they knew students besides themselves who, currently or sometime during the academic year, had problems with food insecurity or hunger. Yet food assistance (e.g., food pantries) and SNAP are seldom used and responses regarding the use of an on-campus food pantry were mixed. Despite this mixed response, over 2,000 students had used the campus food pantry within the one-year period between opening in 2017 to 2018 (Bishop 2018).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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