Recent reports indicate widespread food insecurity among college students. More than 50% of students attending a university campus, located in the California's Central Valley, reported having experienced food insecurity. Underrepresented minority students and their intersections are disproportionally affected. Resources to increase access to nutritious food have been made available by the University, yet some resources are consistently underutilized.
Explore information and educational needs on food resources available to students in a food insecure university campus from the perspective of student key-informants.
Study Design, Settings, Participants
Focus groups with representatives of student organizations serving demographic categories at most risk of food security are being conducted.
Information being collected through qualitative inquiry include: awareness of available food resources; barriers and facilitators to accessing resources; and group-specific information and educational needs to improve food access and nutrition literacy.
Four focus groups with a total of nine key-informant students have been conducted to date. Preliminary results indicate information sharing through social networks appears paramount to utilizing available resources, as it is the convenience of using such resources (eg, food pantry, educational workshops), especially in light competing academic demands. Nutrition education is consistently mentioned as wanted, yet not stated as a priority that students would actively pursue.
Solutions to improve food availability and accessibility should be student-driven, targeting those most vulnerable to food insecurity. Food environment changes coupled with relevant information and educational campaigns can aid in effectively alleviating food insecurity among college students.
University of California Office of the President; Blum Center for Developing Economies, University of California, Merced.