Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition, Aging and Chronic Disease, Obesity
Objectives : The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of food insecurity and accompanying risk factors among undergraduate students at a private liberal-arts institution in a rural setting.
Methods : A cross-sectional research design was used to analyze the food security status and potential risk factors of undergraduate students. Participants completed an online survey distributed via email. The USDA Six-item Household Food Security Module was used to assess food security status. The perceived stress scale (PSS) assessed perceived stress levels. Participants were also asked about demographics, employment status, living situation, and on or off campus dining options.
Results : 532 respondents met the criteria for the study (14.5% of total undergraduate enrollment). 35% of female participants (n =335) and 47% of male participants (n=197) from the total sample were considered food insecure at some time during the semester. 3rd/4th year students were more likely to be food insecure than 1st/2nd year students (p = 0.03). Factors that increased risk for food insecurity were: being a student of color, first-generation, working more than 16 hours per week, higher levels of perceived stress, and having a meal-plan that did not provide unlimited access to on-campus dining,
Conclusions : Food insecurity was prevalent in at least one third of participants at an undergraduate liberal arts institution in a rural community. Institutions in rural communities need to further explore the root of food insecurity to alleviate potential hunger and malnutrition, as these students often depend on on-campus resources due to lack of off-campus resources in the near vicinity.
Funding Sources :
This study was funded through a “Becoming Community” grant to the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University provided by the Carnegie Mellon Foundation.