The Role of Campus Food Pantries in the Food Security Safety Net: On-Going or Emergency Use at a Midwest Campus Pantry

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Abstract

Food pantries are an integral part of the food security safety net and were designed to distribute emergency food to alleviate short-term hunger. Given many rely on assistance long-term, food pantries may no longer meet the nutritional needs of the typical food pantry user. Less is known about the extent college students use campus food pantries and whether they seek ongoing food support. A comprehensive analysis of food pantry use, including reach, awareness, and student satisfaction was conducted using a cross-sectional campus survey, a student satisfaction survey, and observational data from pantry logs collected from August 2020 to May 2022. During the first year of operation, 20.6% of students were aware of the pantry, 3.1% of students were reached, and student satisfaction was high. About half of users visited once, while 15.4% visited 8 or more times during an academic year. On average, students that visited more had a larger span of use (6.5 months), visited more frequently (2 weeks between visits), and were more likely to be graduate students and older. While most students used the pantry in the short-term, chronic use of the pantry increased from year 1 to year 2. This suggests need may be growing and additional policies or programs are warranted to support students with chronic food needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4876
JournalNutrients
Volume14
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Keywords

  • food insecurity
  • food pantry
  • college
  • students
  • satisfaction
  • acceptability
  • reach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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