Studying on Empty: A Qualitative Study of Low Food Security Among College Students
Recent research suggests that the combination of high and rising college prices, stagnant family incomes, and increased enrollment of lower-income students leaves many college students struggling to meet their basic needs, including adequate, regular nutrition. This report explores the lived experiences of students with low food security, how students cope with its challenges, and how these strategies influence academic performance. Students in our study demonstrated commitment to their education through pronounced levels of sacrifice. They were more likely to approach their education aspirations once their basic needs were met.
SHIFTING FOOD SECURITY
- Over the course of the nine-month study, it was most common for students to experience degradations and/or improvements in their food security that were significant enough to shift them into either a lower or higher food security status.
- This fluidity provides important context around this topic in higher education, as it shows that collegiate food security is not a static condition. Our observations suggest that drivers, such as
access to dependable social networks, changes in employment, alterations in financial resources, and fluctuations in expenses, can either degrade or stabilize food security (see Figure 1).
- Far from being a fixed station, collegiate food security among the study group was attained through beneficial programs, informed and empathetic administrators, and, for some students, personal growth in managing finances and time.
Read the full report here from the TRELLIS RESEARCH SERIES ON COLLEGIATE FINANCIAL SECURITY & ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
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