Working to end food insecurity at KU


In the Spring of 2017 student Ike Uri surveyed KU undergraduates with support from Student Affairs. Uri found a food insecurity rate of 54% among those students who responded. The rate was surprising, as it was much higher than what would be expected given findings at other comparable institutions. A study published in 2014 "Household Food Security in the United States in 2013" concluded the food insecurity rate in the state of Kansas is 16% (Coleman-Jensen, Gregory and Singh. USDA-ERS Economic Research Report , 173. Given the low response rate Uri's study did not include first year students or graduate students. Given the relatively low response completion rate in his study, Uri recommended further research and study of the KU student population.

In the Spring of 2018, Dr. Stacey Swearingen-White, faculty member in Urban Planning and Faculty Fellow in Student Affairs conducted a second survey. This time the response rate was 12.5%, double that of the Uri study. Further, Dr. White included first year students and graduate students. Respondents also were invited to participate in focus groups and individual interviews.

Dr. Swearingen-White found a food insecurity rate of 31.5% among KU students.

Both studies used questions from the USDA for measuring food security. The USDA defines low food security as "reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirablity of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake. Very low food security is defined as reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake."

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