Changes in Food Security Status During Undergraduate Enrollment

Cara L. Cuite, Kelly E. Dietz, La Reina J. Bates, Stephanie A. Brescia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore changes in student food security status (FSS) during college enrollment and correlates of those changes. Design: Two cross-sectional surveys (2016 and 2019). Participants: Undergraduates (n = 338) at a public university who completed both surveys. Variables Measured: Food security status (US Department of Agriculture 10- and 18-item measures), demographics, and grade point average (GPA). Analysis: Chi-square tests of goodness of fit for representativeness, McNemar-Bowker and paired samples Wilcoxon signed rank test for within-student FSS differences over time, logistic regression for the relationship between demographics and FSS over time, and ANCOVA for the relationship between FSS and GPA. Critical P ≤ 0.05 unless otherwise noted. Results: The prevalence of food insecurity was 22.4% in 2016 and 41.0% in 2019, and the McNemar-Bowker test indicated a significant asymmetrical relationship in FSS over time (P < 0.001). Almost half of the respondents (47.0%) reported experiencing food insecurity at least once. In multivariate analyses controlling for other demographic variables, first-generation students had the most consistent risk of food insecurity with lower FSS in 2016 (P < 0.001) and 2019 (P < 0.001), and they were more likely to have worsened FSS over time (P = 0.05). Food insecurity at either time was related to a lower 2019 GPA (P < 0.001). Conclusions and Implications: Food security status measured cross-sectionally cannot capture changes in student FSS, which many students may experience. Longitudinal research is needed to better understand the role of demographic and student factors in FSS changes over time. Food resources should be offered to all students, as many will need them at some point.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-95
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • college students
  • food insecurity
  • higher education


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