Advertisement

P55 Food Security at a Private, Midwestern University During COVID-19

      Background

      Food insecurity among college students has been estimated between 32.9% to 50.9% of students. Food insecurity among college students is associated with poor nutrition, higher stress levels, and poorer academic outcomes. First-generation, low-income, and students of color are at higher risk of food insecurity.

      Objective

      To assess food security at a private university during the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Study Design, Settings, Participants

      This cross-sectional study was conducted in Fall 2020 at a private, Midwestern university with approximately 5,400 students. Participants were recruited via email. An online survey was administered to 393 students, aged 18-53 years (M = 20.69 ± 4.07). Participants were predominantly White (n = 338, 86%), US citizens (n = 383, 98%), majority female (n = 300, 76%), mostly undergraduate (n = 361, 92%), and 113 (29%) were first-generation students. Eighty-one (21%) participants reported living with a parent/guardian.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      The USDA's 18-item Household Food Security Survey was used to assess food security. A total food security score was calculated, and participants categorized as high, marginal, low, or very low food security. A t test was performed to determine if a difference existed between food security scores for participants who were/were not first-generation students.

      Results

      Of the 393 participants, 199 (50.6%) reported high food security, 73 (18.6%) marginal, 51 (13.0%) low, and 70 (17.8%) very low. Based on the USDA classification, 69.2% were food secure while 30.8% were food insecure. First-generation students had significantly greater food insecurity (M = 3.22 ± 3.40) than non-first-generation students (M = 1.67 ± 2.63), [t(169.27) = 4.37, P < 0.000].

      Conclusion

      Food security among participants was higher than estimates for college students pre-COVID-19. One possible explanation is that more students may have been living at their permanent residences due to remote learning. First-generation students continue to be at high risk for food insecurity. Nutrition educators can collaborate with administrators and other stakeholders to provide resources to increase food security among students.
      Funding None.

      Appendix. Supplementary data