Food Insecurity Among Community College Students: Prevalence And Relationship To Gpa, Energy, And Concentration
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DepartmentCommunity College Leadership Program
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The latest U.S. government surveys indicate that one in six Americans suffer from food insecurity, which means they have trouble affording adequate food. Previous research has shown that food insecurity affects adult cognitive ability, energy levels, ability to concentrate as well as child academic success. Food insecurity has been studied in college students at 4-year institutions; however, research on the community college population is sparse. This study aimed to better understand the extent and implications of food insecurity among community college students attending two community colleges in Maryland. The research was carried out using a survey that collected data related to student food insecurity, demographics, along with self-reported Grade Point Average (GPA), energy, and concentration levels in 301 community college students. Approximately half of the students attended a suburban community college (n=151) and half of the students attended an urban community college (n=150). Data from each school were compared to examine issues affecting students attending each institution. The study revealed that over half of the community college student respondents were food insecure and that food insecurity was slightly less prevalent among respondents at the suburban community than those from the urban community college. African American students and multiracial students were more likely to experience food insecurity than White students. Students who lived alone, with roommates or with spouses/partners were more likely to experience food insecurity than students who lived with parents or relatives. Single parents were also more likely to be food insecure than students who were not single parents. Food insecurity was significantly associated with student GPA, energy, and concentration in the overall student sample. Food insecure students were more likely to fall into a lower GPA category than they were to fall into the highest GPA category. Food insecure students were also more likely to report lower energy and concentration levels and the degree of food insecurity appeared to affect the probability of low energy or difficulty concentrating. When considering each community college separately, food insecurity was significantly associated with GPA at the suburban community college but not at the urban community college. Also, food insecurity had a stronger association with energy and concentration at the urban community college than at the suburban community college.