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P118 Campus Food Insecurity and Pantry Awareness at a Public University in South Central Florida

      Background

      Higher education institutions have reported from 21 to 59% of their students experiencing food insecurity, meaning they lack the resources to be able to obtain enough food. Food insecurity can negatively impact students’ academic performance, physical health, and mental health. Thus, many campuses have established on-site food pantries to address this issue.

      Objective

      To establish the prevalence of food insecurity among students and their awareness and use of the campus food pantry.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      An online survey was administered to students at the University of South Florida in Fall 2019. A convenience sample of 497 students with representation from all academic colleges completed the survey via Qualtrics.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Descriptive analysis was conducted using SPSS 26. To determine food security status, only completed responses (n = 434) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 6-item short form Food Security Survey Module were included.

      Results

      Of the 434 students, 309 were categorized as food secure (71.2%); 90 were low food secure (20.7%), and 35 were very low food secure (8.1%) in the previous 30 days of taking the survey. Of the food insecure students (n = 125), 5 visited the pantry because they needed assistance (4.0%), 3 visited but not for assistance (2.4%), 76 heard of the pantry but never visited (60.8%), and 41 had never heard of the pantry (32.8%). When asked if students would use the pantry if they needed, 38 said they would not use it for various reasons including: embarrassment, perception of foods provided (eg, canned foods high in sodium), lack of awareness (eg, did not know the physical location of the pantry), and perception of the purpose of the pantry (eg, for undergraduates only).

      Conclusions

      Findings from this survey can help higher education institutions identify student food insecurity needs and barriers to campus food pantry access.
      Funding University of South Florida.

      Appendix. Supplementary data