Poster Title

Understanding Student Food Insecurity at Eastern Kentucky University: Beyond the Numbers

2nd Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

2nd Student Major

Public Health

2nd Student Minor

Anthropology

3rd Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

3rd Student Major

Anthropology

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

KY House District #

74

KY Senate District #

28

Department

Dept. of Anthropology, Sociology, & Social Work

Abstract

Food insecurity for undergraduate students on college campuses across the United States is no secret. Numerous studies have been conducted at universities around the country and estimates of prevalence range from 14-50%. Kentucky has a relatively high rate of residents with food insecurity at approximately 15%; from what is already known, the number of Kentucky undergraduate students experiencing food insecurity will be significantly higher than the state and national averages. For example, a 2018 survey of Eastern Kentucky University students revealed that approximately 20% of respondents had occasionally ran out of food and did not have money to buy more. We expanded on this study to understand the true experience of food insecurity on EKU’s campus and the impact it has on student success. To fully explore food insecurity of undergraduate students, particularly on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus, a combination of quantitative and qualitative data was collected to best understand the complex nature of food insecurity, its impacts on students, and insight into potential solutions. The ethnographic nature of the research gets to the root of the student experience to fully allow researchers to understand food insecurity not just in the statistical sense but also its real-life impacts that are best explained through language and not through mathematics. Thus, this study used a combination of ethnographic interviews and surveys to assess the experiences of students on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus dealing with food insecurity. This poster presents initial findings from our 2019 study. The research team hopes that the findings will shed stronger light on the problem, contribute to the current literature, and potentially reveal further solutions that have not been deeply explored yet.

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Understanding Student Food Insecurity at Eastern Kentucky University: Beyond the Numbers

Food insecurity for undergraduate students on college campuses across the United States is no secret. Numerous studies have been conducted at universities around the country and estimates of prevalence range from 14-50%. Kentucky has a relatively high rate of residents with food insecurity at approximately 15%; from what is already known, the number of Kentucky undergraduate students experiencing food insecurity will be significantly higher than the state and national averages. For example, a 2018 survey of Eastern Kentucky University students revealed that approximately 20% of respondents had occasionally ran out of food and did not have money to buy more. We expanded on this study to understand the true experience of food insecurity on EKU’s campus and the impact it has on student success. To fully explore food insecurity of undergraduate students, particularly on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus, a combination of quantitative and qualitative data was collected to best understand the complex nature of food insecurity, its impacts on students, and insight into potential solutions. The ethnographic nature of the research gets to the root of the student experience to fully allow researchers to understand food insecurity not just in the statistical sense but also its real-life impacts that are best explained through language and not through mathematics. Thus, this study used a combination of ethnographic interviews and surveys to assess the experiences of students on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus dealing with food insecurity. This poster presents initial findings from our 2019 study. The research team hopes that the findings will shed stronger light on the problem, contribute to the current literature, and potentially reveal further solutions that have not been deeply explored yet.