Food Insecurity on Campus: Action and Intervention

The current higher education system is failing too many of our students and communities. Approximately half of undergraduates – and especially those from historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities – report that they are struggling to meet basic daily necessities like adequate food, and such material hardships are impeding their college success. Something must be done.

Food Insecurity on Campus: Action and Intervention contains the latest promising practices designed to promote basic needs security so that students can learn and reach their educational and life goals. This book brings together the nation’s leaders and innovators in the field, each sharing their distinct approach to better serving students through practice, research, and policy. It is a direct response to the requests that we, the editors and chapter contributors, have received for guidance and support to better serve all students.

We worked hard to bring together a diverse group of contributing authors who are tacking food insecurity on campus from multiple angles. Some are generating awareness and implementing programs to address immediate needs, like campus pantries, meal voucher programs, and emergency grant initiatives. Others are leveraging external community partnerships and public benefits to help secure additional resources for students. Campus and system leaders are shifting organizational cultures to support students who are food insecure and still others are working with policymakers to enact systemic change that will help students meet their basic needs.

Indeed, food insecurity is a complex problem and it will take a coordinated multifaceted response, drawing on the expertise of multiple stakeholders, in order to address it and support student success. There is no one perfect intervention, no silver bullet, that when initiated will end student hunger. Each action or intervention has benefits as well as limitations and must be shaped to fit a particular context.

Food Insecurity on Campus: Action and Intervention illustrates that students’ lives are much more complex than idealized notions of college as a protected time for emergent adulthood. For some readers, the extent of the problem and the difficult choices faced by students will be eye-opening, and we hope it will serve as a call to action. For others already well aware of the problem, it serves as a critical resource by providing clear descriptions of promising interventions and recommendations for how to effectively deploy them. Our hope is that this book generates both a greater awareness of the issue of food insecurity on campuses and greater capacity to address it so that students can reach their full potential.

A college credential pays dividends – not only for individuals with well-paying jobs, but also for the communities in which they are civically involved and the health of our nation more broadly.  These social returns often exceed private ones and the benefits of a college degree are largest among those least likely to attain one.  Disproportionate college completion rates inhibit efforts to create an educated workforce and citizenry as well as a more socially equitable society.  Beyond an individual human right to food, improving food security can enhance the health, well-being, and educational success of students and our communities.

Order Food Insecurity on Campus: Action and Intervention -- published on May 12, 2020 -- at the following link:

Katharine M. Broton is an assistant professor of higher education and sociology (courtesy) at the University of Iowa. She and Clare Cady are the editors of Food Insecurity on Campus: Action and Intervention.