Doctor of Nutrition and Food Sciences (PNFS)


School of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Document Type



Emerging research has demonstrated high food insecurity rates among college students in the United States (US). The goal of this dissertation is to expand upon the literature evaluating food insecurity on college campuses to improve relief efforts. A literature review and mixed methods were used to measure and compare food insecurity prevalence rates and institutional perceptions of this issue among two Louisiana colleges, Louisiana State University (LSU) and McNeese State University (MSU).

Students who were more likely to be food insecure were from low income households, nonwhite, first generation college students, and/or had past reliance on federal assistance. Food insecure students are more likely to struggle academically when compared to their peers who are food secure. Institutional responses vary across US campuses with little evidence demonstrating effectiveness of implemented interventions.

The second study used quantitative methods to measure and compare food insecurity rates at LSU and MSU. The results indicated that when the data were combined 42.5% of students reported being food insecure. These students at both universities more likely to rate their academic progress poorly, be a first-generation college student, and have previous reliance on federal assistance. Results of this study demonstrate similar findings from multi-institutional studies and government reports.

The third study evaluated faculty’s, staff’s, and administrations’ attitudes and perceptions towards food insecurity among college students and perceived institutional obstacles. Participants from both universities were vocal in their support for students, but some voiced hesitation in accepting students who were truly food insecure, with comments suggesting these students lack the necessary skills to care for themselves. Results highlighted the need to further explore the obstacles food insecure college students face, and the role the university should play in helping to support these students.

Findings from the quantitative and qualitative studies, regarding food insecurity estimated rates, risk factors, and institutional barriers agree with the existing literature. The literature review and studies support the need for more research on variables associated with being a food insecure college student, how best to identify students in need, and identification and evaluation of universal interventions to address food insecurity in college.



Committee Chair

Holston, Denise