Assessing Food Security at NIU- Preliminary Findings
Williams, Lexie A
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Food insecurity at the college and university-level is an issue that has been largely overlooked. Until recently, Northern Illinois University was only able to provide support to students who were experiencing a food crisis on a case-by-case basis, as the student expressed their need. The Huskie Food Pantry is the university's proactive attempt to keep students from reaching this crisis point. Two very recent studies assessed the food security status of undergraduate students. These studies found significant correlations between food insecurity and GPA, financial support level, race, and employment status. The food-insecure students reported that hunger or housing problems had an impact on their education, specifically not buying required textbooks, missing classes, or dropping classes. The research questions that we aim to answer are: What does a food insecure student at NIU look like (demographic profile)? How many food insecure students are there at NIU, and to what severity is the food insecurity? What are the students' coping strategies, and why? We plan to utilize Qualtrics to formulate, disseminate, and analyze our survey. We will use questions that assess the severity of food insecurity, kinds of foods needed, residence status, level of income, coping strategies such as SNAP, and availability (compared to the times that the Huskie Food Pantry is operational). Our expected results are that many students who are food insecure are not utilizing DeKalb County resources such as the Huskie Food Pantry and other area food pantries. We also expect to find that, based on the aforementioned studies, there is an increased need for food security in minority populations. We will be using the results to review current procedures and resources. This will help us determine if we are matching the needs of the students and, if not, how to improve pantry operations.