Measuring Food Insecurity Across Diverse College Student Populations at Northern Illinois University

Authors: Courtney Gallaher*, Northern Illinois University, Kristen Borre, Northern Illinois University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: food insecurity, universities, colleges, food systems
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Roosevelt 7, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

There has been growing public recognition that college students in the United States are grappling with food insecurity yet the data on is only beginning to emerge. Many universities have been slow to identify the problem even though food insecurity impacts learning and academic success. We conducted a study of food insecurity at Northern Illinois University based on a campus wide survey of NIU students, and semi-structured qualitative interviews with both students and administrators. In this paper, we present findings from the survey and interviews that demonstrate that food insecurity is widespread and students employ a variety of coping strategies to get by. We also reflect on the methodological challenges related to measuring food insecurity amongst college students and the shortcomings of using standardized approaches to measuring food insecurity on college campuses. Surveys and interviews revealed a disconnect between different student populations and the standardized measures used to measure food insecurity as diverse student populations understood experiences with food insecurity in very different manners.

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