Food Insecurity at U Of G
As many as 1 in 5 students studying at U of G may be experiencing food insecurity. That’s according to a team of researchers working with The Guelph Lab on research to understand the experiences and prevalence of food insecurity amongst students at U of Guelph.
In March and April 2019, Meal Exchange (MX), Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), and students working with Dr. Laura Forbes partnered with The Guelph Lab to send an online survey to a random sample of 9.000 University of Guelph students. Nearly 1000 students responded to the survey, and 13% of the respondents were considered moderately food insecure and 11% were categorized as severely food insecure.
Nationally, food insecurity is defined as the inability to acquire or consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so. In the Guelph study, food insecure students not only struggled to afford healthy, balanced meals but many (72%) skipped meals because they didn’t have enough money for food.
Seyed Mehdi Ahmadi, a PhD student in the department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, was the lead author of the report. “Food insecurity can lead to serious health and nutrition problems,” said Ahmadi. “We’re still learning about the long-term effects of food insecurity for university students, but research has shown it could have negative impacts for health, grades and graduation rates." "We also know that food insecurity is often linked to income, and we saw evidence of that in our research. Students who relied on loans and students who were working were at much greater risk of being food insecure” added Ahmadi.
Meal Exchange, a national student organization that partnered with the Guelph Lab on the research at Guelph, launched the first “Hungry for Knowledge” survey in 2016 and there have been a number of similar studies on other Canadian campuses in recent years. The results in Guelph are in line with these other studies.
“Unfortunately, living with food insecurity appears to be a reality for many students across Canada, including students here at Guelph” said Dr. Liz Jackson, Co-Director of the Guelph Lab. “We’re working with a wide range of partners to act on this research locally and nationally.”
Visit the "Food Insecurity" Challenge to learn more about our work on Student Food Insecurity.