Online Program

Food insecurity in post-secondary settings: Why are one in three students food insecure?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 12:45 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Stephanie Nelson, MS, RDN, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Meg Bruening, PhD, MPH, RD, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Melissa N. Laska, PhD, MPH, RD, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Introduction:Food insecurity is a persistent public health concern; however, few studies have examined the factors related to food insecurity among college students, particularly college freshmen living in dormitories. The transition into college results in new roles and stressors that may be related to food insecurity.

Methods:Cross-sectional surveys were administered with college freshmen students (n=221: 61.4% female; 52.3% non-white) living in dormitories attending a large, diverse public university located in the southwest during 2014-2015. Multivariate logistic and linear regression models, adjusted for gender, race/ethnicity, Pell grant status, and dormitory residence assessed the association between food insecurity, mental health, personal eating behaviors, and perceptions of the campus eating environment.

Results:The prevalence of food insecurity was high with 34.4% reporting food insecurity over the past 30 days and 35.3% over the past 90 days. Breakfast eating (β=-1.05; p=0.004) and home cooked meal consumption (β=-0.54; p=0.046) were inversely related with food insecurity. Anxiety (OR=1.61; 95% CI=1.08, 2.37), depression (OR=2.01; 95% CI=1.27, 3.19), and fast food consumption (β=0.55; p=0.016) were positively associated with food insecurity.

Conclusion: Students faced high levels of food insecurity in this sample. Compared to food secure students, food insecure college freshmen had poorer eating patterns and were at greater risk for mental health issues, but did not differ in perceptions of the college food environment. Interdisciplinary public health interventions are needed during this time of transition to protect emerging adults from the effects of food insecurity.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss how the transition into college may exacerbate food insecurity, making college freshmen a vulnerable population. Describe the prevalence of food insecurity among urban college freshmen. Compare differences in the eating patterns between food secure and food insecure college freshmen.

Keyword(s): Food Security, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the research question and collected the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.