University student food insecurity and academic performance

Robert R. Weaver, Nicole A. Vaughn, Sean P. Hendricks, Penny E. McPherson-Myers, Qian Jia, Shari L. Willis, Kevin P. Rescigno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Objective: Characterize the prevalence and dimensions of student food insecurity and the associations with academic performance. Participants: An online survey was distributed (November 2017) to 13,897 undergraduates at a midsized, New Jersey Public University; 2,055 (15%) responded. Methods: Demographic, behavioral, and food security data from University IT services, and the survey were combined in a single dataset. The USDA food security index was adapted to assess food insecurity. Results: Forty-eight percent of students were food insecure. Odds were higher for: women, African Americans, Hispanics, students with partial or no meal plan, commuters, and students receiving financial assistance. Food insecurity increased the odds of being among the lower 10% GPA and reduced the odds of being among the upper 10% GPA. Conclusions: Food insecurity among university students is high and is associated with academic performance. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this relationship is essential to design programs to address this problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-733
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of American College Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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