Food insecurity and utilization of campus food resources differ by demographic and academic group

Tanner et al. / Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development / March 2023

Food Pantry Box

Food insecurity is a major challenge for many college students, negatively affecting their well-being and academic success. To address the challenge, universities are implementing food resources to provide free access to food; however, little is known about how students’ identities affect their utilization of these resources. This study analyzed the relationships among food insecurity, campus food resource participation, and student demographic and academic identity. Survey data were collected from a representative sample (n=1,190) of undergraduate students at the University of California (UC), Davis. Analyses were conducted using chi-square tests of independence and logistic regression to assess factors related to food insecurity and campus food resource participation. The results indicate that transfer students are 84% more likely to experience food insecurity, but 39% less likely to use campus food resources. Both first-generation and fourth- year students disproportionately experience food insecurity and utilize campus food resources more. Latino(a)/Chicano(a)/Hispanic students are twice as likely to experience food insecurity and 49% more likely to use food resources than white/European American students. These results demonstrate that student identity intersects with food insecurity and access in the college environment. These findings can guide recommendations for improving and expanding campus food resources by utilizing equitable outreach strategies that build a support network of food access while reflecting the diverse needs of student