Persistent and Episodic Food Insecurity and Associated Coping Strategies Among College Students

Published:September 29, 2022DOI:



      To determine the rates of episodic and persistent food insecurity among college students and whether coping strategies employed differs on the basis of food security status.


      Online cross-sectional survey administered in March 2021.


      A large Midwestern university.


      A random sample of students (n = 5,000) were invited to participate via email with a response rate of 20% (n = 888).

      Main Outcome Measures

      Food insecurity was assessed using the 10-item US Department of Agriculture Adult Food Security Survey Module. Food acquisition and management coping strategies were measured using modified questionnaires.


      Pearson's chi-squared tests, 1-way ANOVAs, and post hoc analyses were conducted to examine associations of sociodemographic factors and coping strategies with food security status. Linear regression models were used to estimate the association between the coping strategies scale and subscales with food insecurity status.


      The food insecurity rate was 22%, with 11% and 10% of students experiencing episodic and persistent food insecurity, respectively. Coping strategies varied significantly by food security status (P < 0.001), with students facing persistent food insecurity employing coping strategies most frequently.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Future research is needed to better understand the persistent nature of food insecurity and coping strategies to develop tailored policies and programs for the college student population.

      Key Words

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