Food insecurity is a prevalent issue in college campuses across the country. The Hunger on Campus study found that 48% of college students face food insecurity. Studies conducted in 2018 and 2020 found approximately 42% of Oklahoma State University-Stillwater students were food insecure. Sophomores, juniors, seniors, and minority students were at the highest risk, yet were not using campus or community food security resources.
Identify factors contributing to limited use of campus food security resources.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
The qualitative study was conducted in October 2021 on the OSU Stillwater campus. Sophomores, juniors, and senior-level students were recruited using a randomized email list and through ethnically diverse campus organizations. The interview questions were developed based on findings of the previous studies by researchers and campus life administration familiar with the study. Six interviews were conducted either in-person or virtually. Participants were incentivized with a $10 University Dining gift card.
Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Two researchers independently analyzed the data for each interview and identified themes across interviews, then met to discuss and resolve differences. The data and themes were reviewed by a third researcher to minimize bias. For each overarching theme summary statements were written and quotes were extracted.
Saturation of information was received after conducting 6 interviews. The majority (71%) of respondents represented minority racial/ethnic groups. The primary factor limiting student usage of resources was a lack of awareness and perceived stigma for needing food assistance. The recommended strategy for increasing awareness was to distribute information on campus via social media followed by A-Frames.
Campus food security resources are underutilized due to students’ lack of awareness and perceived stigma. The findings can be used by student governments and campus life leaders in promoting food resources. The long-term implication is increased awareness of food security resources at OSU-Stillwater.