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Health Professions


Food insecurity has emerged as a leading health care problem in the United States, impacting college students’ health, well-being, and academic performance. The aims of this study were: (1) to assess the prevalence of food insecurity, (2) to identify college students’ perceptions about food access resources, and (3) to explore students’ expressed needs from the university in improving food security status. A mixed-methods approach was used to assess the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the study aims. An online survey to gather demographic information and assess food security status using the 6-item version of the US Household Food Security Scale Module (HFSSM) was administered. Next, qualitative focus groups with subsets of participants was conducted to gain further insight into the perceptions, coping mechanisms, and resource utilization issues related to food insecurity. This study found 34.1% of undergraduate college students to be food insecure and demonstrates that students with a meal plan are less likely to be food insecure (p = 0.012; OR = 0.68; 95% CI = 0.489, 0.918). Qualitative data identified key influencers of food insecurity: (1) personal beliefs, (2) life skills, and (3) the university. The results of this study contribute to the literature focused on food insecurity prevalence in college students and presents insight from the college student perspective. Findings may support the development of relevant interventions that are congruent with students’ needs, enhancing resource utilization to increase food security status among college students.

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