The Prevalence of Food Insecurity among Students at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly Pomona)
Authors:Bonny Burns-Whitmore, Veronica Carmona
Mentor:Bonny Burns-Whitmore, Professor of Nutrition; Graduate Coordinator, California State Polytechnic University Pomona
Background: Little is known about food insecurity among college students. Since Cal Poly Pomona (CPP) is one of the most culturally diverse universities in California, it is suspected that there is a significant percentage of food insecurity among the student population.
Objective: 1) To determine if there a relationship between food insecurity among minority and non-minority populations among college students at CPP, 2) to observe the effects of spending expenditures.
Design: A modified validated questionnaire, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Household Food Security Survey Module was administered to CPP students (n=131) over the age of 18 living on- and off-campus. Use of these standardized modules and procedures strengthens validity and reliability of the resulting measures and assures maximum comparability with national statistics on food security and hunger. Thus, both questionnaires can be utilized in and relevant to college student populations. Results: The prevalence of food insecurity among Cal Poly Pomona students surveyed was 46%; with 33% having low food security and 13% very low food security. Nearly one in three students indicated having at least one or two affirmative responses identifying them as food insecure. Minority students were significantly more likely to be food insecure versus non-minority students. The students' major and “off campus living situation with roommates" were also shown to be significant (p<0.05). Differences in spending expenditures among males and females approached significance (p=0.05 and p=0.08)
Conclusion: Food insecurity exists among Cal Poly Pomona students, and some majors might be more at risk than others. In this sample, minority students were identified as being food insecure, which reflects the California current census data.