Study: 36 percent of college students lack food, secure housing

Students walk on campus at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. More than one-third of U.S. college students do not have enough to eat and lack a secure home, according to a survey released Tuesday. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

April 3 (UPI) — More than one-third of U.S. university students do not have enough to eat and lack a secure home, according to a new survey Tuesday by researchers at Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab.

The survey focused on 43,000 students at 66 institutions in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Included in the survey are students from 4-year universities and community colleges during 30 days preceding the survey.

The findings show the basic needs — food and housing — of 36 percent of university students are not being met. Numbers among community college students are higher, with 42 percent lacking food and 46 lacking housing.

The research also found 9 percent of university students and 12 percent of community college students were homeless at one point during the last year.

Rates of food and housing insecurity were higher among students who worked longer hours, the report said.

Researchers blame increased college costs, insufficient aid packages and more low-income students enrolling in college, who often find campus grants do not cover all their expenses.

The report also found other disparities. For example, more than 60 percent of former foster youth were both food and housing insecure, and 24 percent had experienced homelessness during the last year.

Students who identify themselves as non-binary, homosexual or bisexual were over-represented among students who lacked food or housing security.

The report also found African-American and Native American students were much more likely than non-Hispanic white or Asian students to experience trouble.

To help with the growing problem, student-led food drives have been created, many of which are part of the College and University Food Bank Alliance. The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness and the Student Government Resource Center also are focusing on student hunger, and offer toolkits and support in partnership with CUFBA.


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