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May 02, 2019

More than two in five college students were food insecure in 2018, Temple research finds

Nearly half those surveyed by the school's Hope Center said they worried about running out of food

Education Food Accessibility
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More than 40% of college students were food insecure in 2018, including nearly half of two-year college students, according to a study examining the ways today’s college students navigate the rising costs of higher education.

The study comes from Temple University’s Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, a group dedicated to researching the modern college landscape.

Rampant food insecurity, defined as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food” by the USDA, among college students is the Hope Center’s main takeaway from its study.

The group’s “National #RealCollege Survey”, which was conducted during the fall of 2018 and relies on data from nearly 86,000 participants, found that 48% of two-year college students, and 41% of four-year college students, had experienced food insecurity within 30 days of taking the survey. 

More than 50% of two-year students and 44% of four-year students were worried about running out of food, the survey found.

The survey included Pennsylvania-based responses from students at Gwynedd Mercy University, Jefferson, La Salle, and Montgomery County Community College.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, founder of the Hope Center and a professor at Temple, shared itemized breakdowns of food insecurity on Twitter:

According to the study, students who are experiencing food and housing insecurity are also often actively trying to fix their conditions: More than two-thirds of students experiencing food insecurity, housing insecurity, and homelessness were currently employed while also attending school.

“The #RealCollege survey affirms what administrators, faculty, staff, and students have known for many years,” the study’s authors concluded. “Basic needs insecurity is a condition challenging many undergraduates trying to pursue credentials. The scope of the problem described here is substantial and should be cause for a system response.”

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