“Food is Last on My List”:  Understanding Food Insecurity on an Urban College Campus

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“Food is Last on My List”: Understanding Food Insecurity on an Urban College Campus

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Abstract

Food insecurity among college students has become an increasing concern on campuses nationwide. The average rate of food insecurity among college students is estimated to be 32.9%, with students often experiencing the compounding effects of food, financial, and housing insecurities (Bruening et al., 2017; Leung et al., 2020). Furthermore, college students of traditionally marginalized racial groups, such as Black, Latino/a, and Native American students, are more likely to report experiencing food insecurity (Baker-Smith et al., 2020; El Zein et al., 2019). While there is a growing body of knowledge concerning quantitative data, qualitative research is needed to illuminate the full experience of college students living with food insecurity. This study aims to discover the barriers to food access, the impact of experiencing food insecurity, and coping strategies among college students. As part of a larger mixed-methods study, three focus groups were held at a large, urban university in the Southeastern United States. Findings present that barriers to food access included limited healthy options, limited kitchen access, a lack of transportation, insufficient time, and financial hardship. Students stressed the physical, mental, and emotional toll of living with food insecurity. Finally, various coping strategies were described, such as changes in eating habits, prioritizing other expenses, and participating in research. These findings contribute to the broader research on student basic needs and can help inform universities and policymakers to mitigate food insecurity on campus.

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Publication Date

2021

Keywords

campus food insecurity, focus group, college students

Disciplines

Social Work

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Youngmi Kim

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

“Food is Last on My List”:  Understanding Food Insecurity on an Urban College Campus

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